Brazil’s Deforestation Drops, But It Is Still Impressive

Deforestation in the state of Amazonas, Brazil, between the months of June and October this year was 68% less than during the same period last year (falling from 971 square kilometers to around 315 square kilometers).

According to the state Secretariat of Sustainable Development (SDS), the figures are based on data from the Deter System satellite, which is managed by the National Institute of Space Research (Inpe).

The state also reports that deforestation in its southern region from January to November this year was around 520 square kilometers, compared to 764 square kilometers during the same period last year.

The reduction of 244 square kilometers is important and considered a victory of sorts because the area has been the target of a crackdown (Operação Uiraçu) by the Brazilian Environmental Protection Institute (Ibama).

Minister of Environment, Marina Silva, says that lower numbers are the result of the government’s Amazon Deforestation Prevention and Combat Action Plan launched in July 2003, which is run jointly by 13 ministries under the supervision of the office of the presidential Chief of Staff.

"The reduction was the result of, in the first place, persistence. Persistence in planning, persistence in strategy, persistence in budgetary terms and persistence on the ground where our people did hard work," said the minister.

The reduction in deforestation reported by the Inpe is the first in nine years. Minister Marina Silva, declared that her goal is to halt the "snowball effect" where forest devastation just keeps growing and make progress toward a balanced environment where people can live and work without wiping out natural resources.

"Our challenge is to coordinate action by the Environmental Protection Institute (Ibama), the Federal Police, the Army and the Land Reform Institute (Incra) toward achieving sustainable development," said the minister.

Silva went on to say that she considers it essential to approve legislation dealing with the issue, for example, the bill for Public Forest Management, which was passed in the Chamber of Deputies but has been bogged down in the Senate for nine months.

Another law would install Sustainable Forest Districts projects that would create jobs, income and sustainable development of forest resources.

Silva points out that a serious problem is predatory and destructive illegal logging activities which the project would make not only legal but sustainable, for example, in the region of the BR-163, a highway that links Cuiabá and Santarém.

Agência Brasil

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