Deforestation of Brazil’s Mata Atlântica — a forest ecosystem more threatened than the Amazon rainforest — fell to 133 square kilometers between 2010 and 2011, down about 14.7 percent from the annual average between 2008 and 2010, reports Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) and Fundação SOS Mata Atlântica.
The data is based analysis of about 93 percent of the 1,315,460-square-kilometer Atlantic Forest biome. Only about 7.9 percent of the original Mata Atlântica survives in fragments larger than one square kilometer.
Logging and conversion for agriculture and cattle ranches have been the primary drivers of deforestation of the Mata Atlântica. In an effort to slow destruction of the forest, in November 2008 former 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 illegal loggers and ranchers.