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Environmental, Campaign & Website News > The World is Still Hacking Away at its Lung

The World is Still Hacking Away at its Lung

Date : 20th August 2003, Source : GreenPlanet

According to a recent report from Brasilia, Brasil, the deforestation rate in Brazil's Amazon, the world's largest jungle, has jumped 40 percent, sparking alarm yesterday among environmentalists and a promise by the government to launch emergency measures.

"This is shocking," said Mario Monzoni, a project coordinator for Friends of the Earth group in Brazil. "The rate of deforestation should be falling, instead the opposite is happening."

Preliminary figures from the Environment Ministry, released late this week, showed deforestation in the Amazon jumped to 9,840 square miles (25,476 sq km) last year -- the highest since 1995 -- from 7,010 square miles (18,166 sq km) in 2001.

"We are going to take emergency action to deal with this highly worrying rise in deforestation," Environment Minister Marina Silva told reporters yesterday, promising the announcement of measures next week. The area cut down was slightly smaller than Haiti.

A former maid who comes from the Amazon, Silva said the government is considering real-time monitoring of deforestation and, for the first time in Brazil, to force all ministries to consider the environment when enacting policies.

The Amazon, an area of continuous tropical forest that is larger than Western Europe, has been described as the "lungs of the world" because of its vast capacity to produce oxygen.

Environmentalists fear its destruction because it is home to up to 30 percent of the Planet's animal and plant species and is an important source of medicines.

Most of the deforestation takes place due to burning and logging to create farms, and the jump in 2002 suggests soy farming is growing rapidly in the area.

Brazil is expected to overtake U.S. soy production in a few years, making it the world's No. 1 producer of a crop that offers large profits for farmers and gives a sizable boost to Brazil's trade accounts.

"It was a long, dry season, but the deforestation figures are at least 30 or 40 percent higher than historical trends," said David Cleary, director of the Amazon program at the Nature Conservancy in Brazil.

"It's clear that the soy boom is an important element of this in the southern Amazon and if ways are not found to minimize the impact of the inevitable spread of soy farming, it is difficult to see these figures falling in coming years," he said.

Because of the size of the Amazon it is virtually impossible to control deforestation, which is carried out by farmers, illegal loggers and miners. The poor are often drawn to the Amazon from other parts of Brazil and take part in illegal logging which is extremely lucrative, especially in the trade of rare tropical timber species like mahogany.

(This article is by Axel Bugge, and was originally published by REUTERS NEWS SERVICE)

Document last updated on Wednesday 01 August 2018

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