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Amazon deforestation intensifies after brief respite

Latest update : 2008-11-29

The deforestation of the Amazon rainforest rose by almost 4% in the past year after a 3-year drop, official figures showed. Brazil's government has called for greater international support for efforts to preserve the world's largest forestland.

AFP  -  Brazil's Amazon jungles, known as the lungs of the world, lost almost 12,000 square kilometres (4,800 sq. miles) in just 12 months, a rise of almost 4.0 percent, new figures showed Friday.

The National Institute for Space Research (INPE) said the deforestation of the vast jungles due to encroaching farm exploitation, was 3.8 percent higher from August 2007 to July 2008 than in the previous 12 months.

The areas most affected were in northern Para and in the central Mato Grosso region, which is a huge producer of soya beans.

Over the past three years, the Brazilian authorities have succeeded in sharply reducing the loss of the Amazon rainforests, the biggest zone of tropical woodland on the planet.

Brazil is fighting to preserve its five million square kilometers of Amazon forest, a battle which it wants to be recognized as a service against global warming.

It argues that its efforts should be rewarded with financial input from other countries which would go to helping poor Amazon populations that might otherwise turn to cutting down trees.

But the results from 2007-2008 show that a surface equivalent to Slovenia or Israel was lost compared with the previous year.

The government had warned that the figures were likely to rise and has brought in new measures to combat the problem, including a system of fines.

It has also passed a series of agreements with soya, meat, wood and mineral producers that they will not buy illegal products.

Environment Minister Carlos Minc has said that without these measures the deforestation would have been twice as large.

Date created : 2008-11-29

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