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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.


British adventurer about to complete Amazon trek

August 9th, 2010

Ed Stafford is walking the length of the Amazon river Photo: KEITH DUCATEL

A former British army captain is about to finish the longest jungle trek in history after completing a 6,000 mile expedition along the Amazon River.

Ed Stafford, 34, is expected to arrive at Maruda Beach in Belem on the Atlantic coast of Brazil after 859 days hacking through some of the most difficult terrain in the world.

The former Afghanistan war veteran began his epic journey near the Pacific Ocean at Camana in Peru in April 2008 and had been expecting to complete the 4,000 mile journey in one year.

But huge detours caused by flooding more than doubled his schedule and added an extra 2,000 miles to his route.

The former Dorset and Devonshire Light Infantry Officer, who has used his walk to raise awareness of environmental issues and collect money for charity, said he was relieved it was finally almost over. (more…)

Brazil Hasn’t Seen So Much Snow in a Decade

August 8th, 2010

It’s something for the records book. For a second day running it snowed Wednesday in Southern Brazil. The same happened in twelve of Argentina’s 24 provinces including parts of Buenos Aires as a consequence of the polar front covering most of the continent’s southern cone with zero and below zero temperatures.

Light snow storms in Brazil were concentrated in areas of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina. Globo network aired snow flakes falling in early morning, cars covered with a thin white coating and some roads dangerously slippery because of ice.

According to meteorologist Estael Sias, Rio Grande do Sul had not seen so much snow since 2000. The cities of Bom Jesus, Cambará do Sul, Caxias do Sul, Crissiumal, Gramado, São José dos Ausentes, Vacaria and Lagoa Vermelha seemed scenes of an European city on winter. People even had a chance to build their snowmen.

In Argentina the phenomenon extended to Northern provinces, geographically sub-tropical while in the Patagonia and along the Andes snow reached over a meter deep, isolating villages and causing yet undisclosed losses to crops and livestock. (more…)

Brazil presidential rivals hold first televised debate

August 6th, 2010

The first televised debate came two months before the presidential election

The four main candidates in Brazil’s presidential election have taken part in the first televised debate.

Attention focused on the two front-runners in recent opinion polls, Dilma Rousseff of the Workers’ Party and Jose Serra of the Social Democracy Party.

Ms Rousseff is a former chief of staff of President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva, but has never run for office. Mr Serra is Sao Paulo’s former governor.

Correspondents say no clear winner emerged from Thursday’s contest.

President Lula is stepping down after serving two consecutive four-year terms, the maximum allowed under Brazil’s constitution. (more…)

Brazil launches population census

August 2nd, 2010

Some 190,000 enumerators equipped with handheld computers, digital maps and GPS devices will visit an estimated 58 million houses during this year’s census in Brazil.

The 12th Demographic Census of Brazil, which began Sunday, will update the figures gathered in 2000, and will be the first fully computerized population count in the country’s history.

It will allow Brazil to do away with the traditional census paper forms, giving enumerators the ability to gather census data and transmit it to the computer centres. The preliminary figures will be released Nov 27. (more…)

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