Some good news from Brazil’s Amazon: only 18,900 square kilometers of forest were cut down or burned down between August 2004 and July 2005.
That is 30% less than the 27,200 square kilometers destroyed between August 2003 and July 2004. The numbers are from Brazil’s Space Research Institute (Inpe).
According to Brazilian ministers Marina Silva, of Environment, and Sergio Rezende, of Science and Technology, there was a substantial reduction in deforestation along the Belém-Brasília highway (known as the BR-163).
Silva said that the government has put its Deforestation Combat Plan into operation in that region and cracked down on illegal destruction of the forest there.
The future of environmental policy and the protection of natural resources will be on the top of the agenda at Brazil’s 2nd National Conference on the Environment, which runs from December 10 to 13.
Preparations for this conference were made at 27 state conferences where the discussions ranged from the caatinga (semi-arid) and the cerrado (savannah), to São Francisco River basin revitalization, to the use of toxic fertilizers and genetically modified crops, to professional training for farm workers and the destination of revenue raised from fines for destroying the environment.
The coordinator of the conference, environmentalist Pedro Ivo Batista, says some 1,500 participants will be present at the event.
"We will have representatives of NGOs, local governmental organizations, unions, quilombos, Indian groups and, of course, a lot of environmentalists," says Batista.
The theme of the conference is "Taking Care of Brazil." The goal is to integrate policy and use natural resources in a sustainable way by promoting development without destroying ecosystems.