November 29, 2008

Officials say Amazon deforestation rising

A Brazilian official says deforestation of the Amazon rain forest increased by nearly 4 percent in the year up to July, the first increase in four years' time.

Brazilian Environment Minister Carlos Minc said a total of 4,620 square miles of the valuable rain forest was destroyed in the year leading up to July, marking a nearly 4 percent increase from the previous year's deforestation figures, the BBC said Saturday.

Farmers influenced by high commodity prices have been named as a potential cause for the increased deforestation, the British broadcaster reported.

Gilberto Camara of the Space Research Institute said while the figures based on satellite images was disturbing from an environmental standpoint, earlier deforestation predictions had been much worse.

We believe it is a setback, but we believe it is also positive in the sense that the expected levels were much higher, Camara said.

There was a lot of burning on the ground in the second half of 2007, which could have led to a much greater increase in deforestation.