The Brazilian government has just announced a plan to cut destruction of its Amazon rain forest by more than half over the next 10 years. The aim is to reduce deforestation of the world's largest forest by 70% by 2018.
The plan is in response to recent official information showing that the destruction of the Amazon rainforest has accelerated for the first time in four years. Satellite images show 11,968 sq km of land was cleared in the year to July, nearly 4% higher than the year before.
The plan's target will be based on the average deforestation over the 10 years through 2005 of 19,500 sq km.
"We can now adopt targets because we now have the instruments to implement them," said Tasso Azevedo, head of the government's Forestry Service, referring to a new Amazon Fund which is attracting foreign donations to improve conservation.
The announcement of the new plan also coincided with the opening of a United Nations climate conference in Poznan, Poland.
"Just in terms of avoided deforestation in the Amazon, the plan foresees a reduction of 4.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide that won't be emitted up to 2018 – which is more than the reduction efforts fixed by all the rich countries" said Environment minister Carlos Minc.
The minister said Brazil hopes to use the plan to "increase the number of contributors to the Amazon Fund" launched last August which aims to collect money from around the world to fight deforestation
High commodity prices tempt farmers to clear more land by burning the Amazon forests. But recent drops in international prices should also help implement the plan.
Brazil has previously refused to adopt targets until rich countries, which cause most carbon emissions, offered more help to protect tropical forests in developing countries.
Norway gave Brazil an unprecedented vote of confidence this year by pledging one billion US dollars to the new fund over seven years.
Earlier this year Brazil's government increased policing, impounded farm products from illegally cleared land and cut financing for unregistered properties, stepping up its efforts after figures showed a spike in deforestation late last year.
The government also mounted a major operation involving police and environmental inspectors known as the "Arc of Fire".
Brazil's Environment Minister, Carlos Minc, said that without actions like this, the figures could have been much higher.
"Many had expected an increase of 30-40% and we managed to stabilize it" said Minc.
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