Rate of Destruction of the Amazon Falling

Whilst the destruction continues there is some good news in that the rate of destruction has been falling. The BBC reported the Brazilian Government as saying that the destruction of Amazon rainforest has reached its lowest level since monitoring began 24 years ago.

Environment minister Izabella Teixeira said "It is the lowest deforestation rate since Brazil began its monitoring, I believe that it is the only good piece of environmental news."

Deforestation rates in the Amazon have been declining since 2004 but critics say recent changes to Brazil's forest protection code could reverse that trend. The latest data from the National Institute of Space Research relates to a period before a change in the code which environmentalists say eases the protection designed to prevent deforestation - a claim that the Brazilian government has disputed.

Satellite imagery showed that 1,798 square miles (4,656 square kilometers) of the Amazon were deforested between August 2011 and July 2012, Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said a news conference. That's 27 percent less than the 2,478 square miles (6,418 square kilometers) deforested a year earlier. The margin of error is 10 percentage points.

George Pinto a director of Ibama, the Brazilian environmental protection agency, explained to reporters that there had been better enforcement of Brazil's environmental laws as well as improved surveillance technology which had led to the fall in deforestation levels.

Pinto said that in the 12-month period a total of 2,000 square meters of illegally felled timber were seized by government agents. The impounded lumber is sold in auctions and the money obtained is invested in environmental preservation programs. Environment Minister Teixeira said that starting next year Brazil will start using satellite monitoring technology to detect illegal logging and slash-and-burn activity and issue fines.

Adalberto Verissimo, a senior researcher at Imazon, an environmental watchdog agency stated that "Over the past several years Brazil has made a huge effort to contain deforestation and the latest figures testify to its success, the deforestation figures are extremely positive, for they point to a consistent downward trend. The numbers disprove the argument that deforestation is necessary for the country's economy to grow. Deforestation has been dropping steadily for the past four years while the economy has grown."

"But the war is far from over. We still have a lot of battles to fight and win." Greenpeace cordinator for  the Amazon , said "the lower figures show that reducing deforestation is perfectly possible, but the numbers are still too high for a country that does not have to destroy one single hectare in order to develop."

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