Friday, August 5, 2011

Amazon deforestation on the rise

August 3, 2011
Source: Sydney Morning Herald

Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon accelerated in June, with more than 300 square kilometres destroyed, a 17 per cent increase over the previous month.

The National Institute for Space Research (INPE) said 312.6 square kilometres were destroyed in June, based on the preliminary analysis of satellite photos of the vast South American rainforest.

May had a decrease in deforestation to 268 square kilometres from 477 square kilometres in April.

In April, more than 400 square kilometres of forests were destroyed in a single state, Mato Grosso, which is seen as a major agricultural frontier and is used for cattle ranches and soybean farming.

At the 2009 UN climate change summit in Copenhagen, Brazil committed itself to reducing Amazon deforestation by 80 per cent by 2020.

Brazil, the world's fifth largest country by area, has 5.3 million square kilometres of jungle and forests - mostly in the Amazon river basin - of which only 1.7 million are under state protection.

The rest is in private hands, or its ownership is undefined.

Massive deforestation has made Brazil one of the world's top greenhouse gas emitters, and the pace of deforestation peaked in 2004 at 27,000 square kilometres a year.

By 2010, it had dropped to 6500 square kilometres, thanks in part to the INPE's Real-Time Deforestation Detection System, which allows researchers to collect new satellite images on a daily basis.

However, the system can only monitor areas of 25 hectares or more, so its results are not considered definitive.

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