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Amazon deforestation falls in June

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon during June dropped at least 4.4 percent to the year earlier period, keeping Brazil on pace for the lowest forest loss since annual record-keeping began in 1988.

Figures released by INPE, Brazil’s National Space Agency, showed that forest loss detected by its DETER (for Real-time Detection of Deforestation) system for monitoring deforestation fell from 417 square kilometers in June 2008 to 399 square kilometers in June 2009. Final figures for the 2008/2009 year are due out in the next couple of months.

The data comes a month-and-a-half after Brazil’s Environment Minister Carlos Minc said deforestation for the 2008/2009 year would be below 10,000 square kilometers, the lowest level in more than 20 years. Falling commodity prices and government action to crack down on illegal clearing are credited for the decline in deforestation rates.

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon typically peaks during the June-August dry season when ranchers and farmers burn forest to clear land for development. A widely published AFP story noting that Amazon deforestation is on the rise based on a comparison between forest loss in May and June ignores this fact.

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