270,000 hectares of the Mata Atlântica, Brazil’s most threatened ecosystem, was cleared between 2002 and 2008, reports a new assessment by the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Natural Resources (IBAMA), Brazil’s environmental regulator. Less than 8 percent of the Atlantic forest—famed for its biodiversity—remains.
Logging and conversion for agriculture and cattle ranches have been the primary drivers of deforestation of the Mata Atlântica, which is found in some of Brazil’s richest and most populous states.
In an effort to slow destruction of the Mata Atlântica, in November 2008 Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signed a decree to protect and restore the ecosystem to 20 percent of its original cover. INPE, Brazil’s space agency, has since extended its advanced deforestation monitoring system to the region in an effort to measure emissions and catch deforesters.