Deforestation in the Amazon Reaches Lowest Levels Ever Recorded in 2009

November 12, 2009

BRASILIA, Brazil, Nov. 12 /PRNewswire/ — Deforestation rates in the
Brazilian Amazon dropped 45.7 percent from August 2008 to July 2009, Brazilian
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced today during a meeting with
state governors and mayors in Brasilia. According to new data based on
analysis of satellite imagery by the National Institute for Space Research
(INPE), an estimate of 7,008 square kilometers of forest were cleared in
Brazil during the 12-month period, the lowest rate since the government
started monitoring deforestation in 1988.

“The new deforestation data represents an extraordinary and significant
reduction for Brazil. Climate change is the most challenging issue that we
face today,” said President Lula following the meeting.

According to the Ministry of Environment, the slowing deforestation levels
are primarily a result of the Action Plan for Deforestation Control and
Prevention in the Amazon, a set of cross-government policies and measures
launched in 2004 to improve monitoring, strengthen enforcement, define
conservation areas and foster sustainable activities in the region. With the
support of 13 government agencies, the plan played a major role in helping
reduce deforestation in the Amazon by 74.8 percent from 2004 to 2009.

Enhanced surveillance and enforcement

The INPE data indicates that the projected 32 percent increase in
inspection operations over the last year was instrumental in inhibiting
illegal deforestation in the Amazon. Satellite images from INPE’s near
real-time deforestation detection system enabled government inspectors to
focus their efforts where deforestation is most critical and act quickly to
prevent new areas from being cleared.

As a result of this surveillance, the Brazilian Environment Institute
apprehended around 230,000 cubic meters of wood, 414 trucks and tractors, and
embargoed 502,000 hectares of land linked to illegal deforestation activities
in the region over the period from August 2008 to July 2009, leading the
government to issue over R$ 2.8 billion reais (US$ 1.6 billion) in fines.

In addition to fines, the government used other tools to financially
constrain those whose activities contribute to the destruction of the forest.
This includes a resolution enacted by the National Monetary Council in
mid-2008 that requires farmers and ranchers in the Amazon to meet
environmental criteria in order to obtain loans from public and private banks.

Conservation areas and sustainable activities

Federal and state governments also worked to create around 50 million
hectares in new conservation units in the Amazon from 2004 to 2008, while
another 10 million hectares in indigenous lands were granted recognition in
the same period. Today, 43 percent of the legal Amazon is federally protected.

The government also initiated a concession scheme for sustainable
management in public forests. The first concessions were granted in August
, enabling three private groups to carry sustainable logging and
extraction activities in 96,000 hectares of the Jamari Public Forest, in the
state of Rondonia.

Deforestation and climate change

Deforestation in the Amazon region is the main source of Brazil’s
greenhouse gas emissions. According to the first National Inventory of
Greenhouse Gases, up to 75 percent of Brazil’s emissions come from
deforestation and land use change.

For this reason, tackling deforestation is at the center of Brazil’s
strategy to combat global warming. Launched in December 2008, the National
Plan on Climate Change sets targets to cut deforestation rates by 80 percent
by 2020, which would avoid 4.8 billion tons in CO2 emissions during this

To meet these goals, the plan sets out a number of actions and programs to
combat illegal logging and provide sustainable economic alternatives to the
people living in the Amazon, among other measures to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions in different sectors.

    Note to Editors
    Evolution of deforestation rates in the Brazilian Amazon

    Year          Rate (km2)
    2000          18,226
    2001          18,165
    2002          21,523
    2003          25,396
    2004          27,772
    2005          19,014
    2006          14,196
    2007          11,633
    2008          12,911
    2009           7,008

    Source: National Institute for Space Research (INPE)

About SECOM:

The Secretariat for Social Communication (SECOM) of the Presidency of
Brazil is responsible for coordinating the Public Relations activities for the
government of Brazil.


Source: newswire

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