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Deforestation rate doubles in the Amazon rainforest, says group

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is up 103 percent over this time last year, reports the latest assessment by Imazon, a Brazil-based NGO.

Imazon’s near real-time deforestation tracking system recorded 1,838 square kilometers of forest clearing between 2012 and June 2013, up from 907 sq km a year earlier.

The Brazilian government has also reported a significant rise in deforestation this year.

Imazon has attributed the increase to last year’s revision of the Forest Code, which governs how much forest a private landowner must preserve. Under pressure from the agricultural lobby, Congress relaxed some aspects of the code to the dismay of environmental groups. Macroeconomic trends, including a weakening Brazilian real which makes agricultural exports more profitable for Brazilian farmers, might also be contributing to rising forest loss.

Final figures based on analysis of higher resolution satellite images will be released at the end of the year.

Brazil has experienced a sharp decrease in the annual rate of forest loss since 2004. Increased monitoring and law enforcement, new protected areas, private sector initiatives, and financial incentives for greener agricultural production have been cited for the drop in deforestation.

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