Amazon deforestation increases six-fold

May 19, 2011
File photo of a deforested area inside the Jamanxim National Forest, state of Para, northern Brazil. A sharp increase in forest destruction in March and April in the Amazon has led Brazil to announce the creation of an emergency task force to fight against deforestation.

A sharp increase in forest destruction in March and April in the Amazon has led Brazil to announce the creation of an emergency task force to fight against deforestation.

The two-month total of 593 square kilometers (368 square miles) deforested represents a six-fold increase compared to the same period last year, according to official statistics.

The office will be comprised of government experts and representatives of states badly impacted by recent deforestation, according to Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira, who announced the office at a press conference.

"Our goal is to stifle deforestation," Teixeira said. "And we are going to do it by July."

In the Amazon state of Mato Grosso alone, 480 square kilometers (298 square miles) of forest were destroyed in two months, according to official statistics based on . The land is used for cattle and soybean farming.

Teixeira said those responsible for illegal deforesting will have their cattle seized.

Officials in Mato Grosso are investigating how so much land was destroyed in their central-western state, Teixeira added.

Brazil, the world's fifth largest country by area, has 5.3 million square kilometers of jungle and forests -- mostly in the basin -- of which only 1.7 million are under state protection. The rest is in private hands, or its ownership is undefined.

Aerial view of the Jamanxim National Forest, in the Amazon state of Para, northern Brazil. Massive deforestation has made Brazil one of the world's top greenhouse gas emitters.

Massive deforestation has made Brazil one of the world's top emitters.

But the pace of deforestation peaked in 2004 at 27,000 square kilometers a year, and in 2010 it dropped to 6,500 square kilometers.

The announcement comes as Brazil's Congress debates a bill that has sparked clashes between and supporters of farmers and ranchers over how to regulate the country's vast but vulnerable wilderness.

At issue is a reform of the 1965 law regulating forestry. The current law forces land owners that have forest on their property to keep part of it intact.

A reform is being pushed by Brazil's powerful agribusiness sector, which is chafing under the country's strict environmental rules.

Brazil is a major world exporter of grains -- including wheat, rice and corn -- as well as soybeans, coffee and beef, and posted record exports worth $80 billion over the past 12 months, according to recent government figures.

Aerial view of a deforested area at the Jamanxim National Forest, state of Para, northern Brazil. The pace of deforestation peaked in 2004 at 27,000 square kilometers a year, and in 2010 it dropped to 6,500 square kilometers.

The government hopes the proposed reform would force private owners to re-forest land they have already destroyed.

Debate has created splits across the political spectrum, and President Dilma Rousseff's control over her party on the issue appears in question.

Rousseff pledged during her campaign to make no concessions that would result in further or threaten Brazil's international environmental commitments.

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resinoth
3.7 / 5 (3) May 19, 2011
the pushback against deforestation will be a function of 1/a^2, where a is the amount left. we'll save a tiny bit, but not much. THE REASON IS BEEF PRODUCTION FOR THE LIKES OF FAST FOOD AND/OR CHEAP BEEF.
3432682
1 / 5 (3) May 19, 2011
Single upward blips in deforestation tell us little. Typical developing nations eat up 20% of their forest/jungle lands and then stop the converstion to agriculture. The 2010 rate of deforestation of 2,500 sq mi is modest.
The more important news would be looking at the long-term trend, which has been excellent, slowing deforestation tremendously. Overall, the Amazon basin is extremely healthy and lush, and is a net sink of CO2.

In 2010, only 0.12% of Brazil's forest was destroyed. That's good news, great news. How much of the previously deforested lands are regenerating, or is good news simply ignored? Could it be that the forests are actually expanding?
jimbo92107
not rated yet May 20, 2011
In related news, there's a big furniture sale at Ikea!
spectator
5 / 5 (2) May 20, 2011
the pushback against deforestation will be a function of 1/a^2, where a is the amount left. we'll save a tiny bit, but not much. THE REASON IS BEEF PRODUCTION FOR THE LIKES OF FAST FOOD AND/OR CHEAP BEEF.


Right, because people don't use LUMBER for housing, cabinetry, furniture, foundation forms, small commercial construction, power line poles, and other stuff.

They have to get lumber from "somewhere" for all this new construction, so even if there was no need to cut forests for farming, they'd still need to cut forests to build all the housing and other things that people use.
resinoth
not rated yet May 29, 2011
of course you are right, spectator, but the majority is simply burned for grazing land, which not only take the trees out of the air cycle/water cycle, but releases all stored Carbon into the atmosphere as Carbon Dioxide and Carbon Monoxide.

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