Amazon being deforested at faster rate than before

January 6th, 2009 - 5:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 6 (IANS) Brazil’s Amazon forests are being axed at a faster rate than ever before, according to new annual figures recently released by the country’s space agency INPE.From August 2007 to July 2008, Brazil deforested 11,968 square kilometres of forests in the area designated as the Legal Amazon, a 3.8 per cent increase over the previous year and an unwelcome surprise following declines of 18 per cent over the previous period.

From 2003-2004 to 2006-2007, annual deforestation totals from the agency fell from 27,423 sq km to 11,532 sq km. There were fears that the current trend could have been worse but for new measures introduced part way through the year when it became apparent that annual deforestation was accelerating towards a possible 15,000 hectare level.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-Brazil has lauded restraints on credit for properties not complying with environmental rules on deforestation licences, legal reserve and permanent preservation areas, strengthened land ownership rules, increased patrolling activity and a sharing of responsibility for halting deforestation with states and municipalities.

“Credit restraint prevents effects linked to illegal land occupation and exploitation (”grilagem”), which is the main direct and specific cause for deforestation in the Amazon”, said WWF-Brazil’s CEO, Denise HamĂș.

“Nevertheless, we are concerned with such a deforestation which is equivalent to almost 40 percent the size of Belgium or the size of Jamaica,” said a WWF release.

“WWF-Brazil favours that which was established in the Amazon Pact for Forest Value Acknowledgement and Deforestation Decrease, which proposes concrete actions and urges the government and society to endeavour all efforts to curb deforestation to zero level in seven years.”

The Pact was an initiative by a group of NGOs and the proposed actions have an estimate cost of R$ 1 billion (1,000,000,000 reais) per year, which is relatively cheap as compared to the social costs (droughts, floods, deaths, economic difficulties and so forth) inflicted on everyone by deforestation.

“Negligence towards our forests causes Brazil to rank fourth among the larger contributors to the planet warming,” HamĂș said.

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