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Video: Global deforestation slows

Green party candidate Marina Silva captured 19 percent of the vote in Brazil’s presidential election, shocking analysts and forcing a run-off.

Silva, a former rubber tapper who was illiterate until the age of 16, advocates stronger protection of the Amazon rainforest.

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Global forest loss slowed to 13 million hectares per year during the past decade, down from around 16 million hectares per year during the 1990s, according to a new assessment from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

The trend accelerated during the past 5 years, especially in the tropics, where annual deforestation dropped from around 9.5 million hectares per year to 9.1 million ha.

The decline in tropical deforestation between 2005 and 2010 was mostly attributable to Brazil, which cut forest clearing by nearly 700,000 hectares per year. Among major forest countries, Mexico, Lao, Cambodia, and Cameroon also saw significant drops in deforestation.

Forest clearing increased substantially in the past five years in Indonesia (107 percent increase), Peru (94 percent), and Madagascar (36 percent).

Loss of primary forest remained high during the decade, with more than 40 million hectares being cleared or re-classified as disturbed forest.

Tree plantations expanded rapidly during the decade. Factoring in these planted forests, the rate of forrest cover loss fell from 8.3 million hectares per year to 5.2 million hectares, an area about the size of Costa Rica.

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200 previously unknown species were discovered during a 60-day expedition in Papua New Guinea.

Half of the new species were spiders, but the team also found two new mammals, nine new plants, two dozen frogs, and multitude of insects. One of the most interesting finds was a still undescribed bat that looks somewhat like “Yoda”, the Star Wars character.

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The Body Shop, a UK-based cosmetics firm, severed ties with its palm oil supplier after a story in The Observer reported the Colombia-based company sought the eviction of peasant farmer families to develop a new oil palm plantation.

The Body Shop, which prides itself on being an ‘eco-conscious’ retailer, was sourcing 90 percent of its palm oil to the accused firm, Daabon Organic, an operator that has been certified under the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil for eco-friendly palm oil.

Daabon’s subsidiary was alleged involved in evictions in a region in Colombia that has been plagued with conflict.

The Body Shop said it spent nine months investigating the charges before making its decision.

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Asia Pulp and Paper, a logging company that has been much criticized by environmentalists, has signed a deal to protect more than 15,000 hectares of peat forest in Sumatra in exchange for carbon payments.

The deal is contingent on Asia Pulp and Paper winning government approval for converting its plantation permit to a carbon storage license. The concession lies on the Kampar Peninsula, which has one of the largest intact peat forests in the province of Riau, on the island of Sumatra.

Kampar Peninsula is a chief battleground between APP and international environmental groups, including the Rainforest Action Network, WWF, and Greenpeace. Greens blame APP for destructive logging practices, while APP maintains it operates in compliance with Indonesian law.

Carbon Conservation, a forest carbon broker based in Singapore, is serving as the project developer.

APP’s suppliers have roughly 2.5 million hectares under concession.

Last week’s report

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