November 28, 2012

Brazil says deforestation level lowest in 24 years

The Associated Press

BRASILIA, Brazil — Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest has dropped to its lowest level in 24 years, the government said Tuesday.

Satellite imagery showed that 1,798 square miles of the Amazon were deforested between August 2011 and July 2012, Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said a news conference. That's 27 percent less than a year earlier.

Brazil's National Institute for Space Research said the deforestation level is the lowest since it started measuring in 1988.

Sixty-three percent of the rainforest's 2.4 million square miles are in Brazil.

The institute said the latest figures show that Brazil is close to its 2020 target of reducing deforestation by 80 percent from 1990 levels. Through July 2012, it dropped 76.26 percent.

George Pinto a director of Ibama, Brazil's environmental protection agency, said that better enforcement of environmental laws and improved surveillance technology are behind the drop in deforestation levels.

Pinto said that in the 12-month period a total of 2,000 square meters of illegally felled timber were seized by government agents.

Teixeira said next year Brazil will start using satellite technology to detect illegal logging and slash-and-burn activity.

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