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Rainforest is Back on the Hit List

Sep 11, 2008
After the increase in global awareness about the dwindling Brazilian rainforest in recent years, it seems worrying that there is once again concern over its destruction after official government data emerged recently stating that deforestation has risen by 64 percent in the last twelve months. This sudden increase in deforestation can be attributed to loggers and soy farmers pushing ever further into the Amazon jungle and the recent high commodity prices.

This week, Brazil's National Institute for Space Research said that around 3,145 square miles - an area about half the size of Wales - of forest were destroyed between August 2007 and August 2008. The satellite images were captured by a real-time monitoring system, known in Brazil as Deter. It comes as a shock - and a terrible step backwards - that deforestation has picked up again after it seemed to be diminishing over the last three years.

The rainforest statistics have been highlighted by the Brazilian newspapers, sparking a debate over how best to preserve the Amazon rainforest and triggering environmental campaigners to attack the government, claiming that the battle to protect the rainforest is not being given sufficient recognition.

This information about the yearly rise in deforestation was released soon after an announcement of monthly figures assessing deforestation per month, which actually showed that it had decreased. Government figures show that between May and June this year deforestation fell by 25%. "This is not about luck, it is about work, work, work," said Brazil's environment minister, Carlos Minc who described the levels of forest destruction as "alarming".

Although the monthly decline in deforestation is of course positive, Environmentalists think that the annual statistics give a more accurate representation of the damage being done to the rainforest, and the environment cannot afford for them to be ignored. Minc is aware that the government still has to combat large problems such as illegal logging. "We can't celebrate because deforestation is still very large. We have to invest everything into sustainable development," Minc was quoted in an interview with the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper.

Environmental campaigners are now accusing the government of backing out of its original promises to protect the Amazon rainforest, which has been constantly destroyed since the 1970s by a mixture of logging, cattle ranching and soy farming. Brazil is striving to expand its economy and develop the Amazon region; however the campaigners fear that this is at the expense of Brazil's natural resources.

"The president (Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva) said there would be no steps backwards," the former environment minister Marina Silva said in an interview with the O Globo newspaper. "But suddenly there is a conjuncture of things that go against everything that was being done."

We can only hope that the Brazilian government hasn't just been making these claims to pacify environmentalists and that they really are willing to crack down extensively on the decimation of this rainforest before the destruction becomes uncontrollable and it is too late.
About the Author
Hannah Walker is a writer for www.ecoswitch.com
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