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Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest drops sharply

August 10th, 2010

The rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest fell by 49 percent this year, the Brazilian Environment Ministry said Monday.

According to a report released in Brasilia, about 700 square miles of rainforest were destroyed from August 2009-June 2010. Over 1,365 square miles were destroyed in the same period a year earlier.

Despite the progress detected by the National Institute of Space Research, or INPE, using satellite equipment, the rainforest that was destroyed August-June is larger than the surface of Brazil’s largest city, Sao Paulo.

INPE president Gilberto Camara acknowledged that the actual destruction could be more extensive than detected, because the radar system it uses only registers deforestation in areas larger than about 62 acres, and because the equipment has been hampered by dense cloud cover in recent months.

Still, Brazilian Environment Minister Izabela Teixeira was upbeat about the result.

“It’s very good, and it underlines a trend that was already seen last year,” she said.

The Amazon rainforest is the largest rainforest in the world, and most of it – equivalent to the size of Western Europe – lies within Brazil’s borders.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, 17 percent of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest has been destroyed over the past two decades.


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