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FORESTS: Brazil Claims Amazon Deforestation 'Halved' August 28, 2005 8:05 AM

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FOREST CONSERVATION NEWS TODAY
Brazil Claims Amazon Deforestation 'Halved'
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Forests.org a project of Ecological Internet, Inc.
 
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August 28, 2005
OVERVIEW & COMMENTARY by Dr. Glen Barry, Forests.org

The Brazilian government has announced that the rate of Amazonian
deforestation has been halved over the past year - from some 18,000 sq km
to 9,000 sq km - due to recent policy initiatives on their part, including
a crack down on illegal logging.  Though this is a crude estimate over a
very short period of time, if this tentative trend were to be confirmed,
consolidated and built upon, it could portend well for the future of the
Amazon. 

A few observations are in order.  There has recently been a downturn in
agricultural commodity prices, which surely accounts for much of the
slowdown in deforestation.  Unless the Brazilian government uses this
opportunity to place reasonable restrictions upon agri-business, such as
enforcing a ban on deforestation of primary rainforests for soya
production, these gains will prove illusory.  Further, illegal logging was
combated literally by the military for two months during this
deforestation slowdown.  It remains to be seen whether there has been a
permanent disruption of illegal logging, or whether they are just "biding
their time".

It must be noted that even a 50% reduction in deforestation extended over
a period of time would not prove adequate to save the Amazon as a large,
operable global ecosystem.  Greater reductions and a reversal in
deforestation rates over much longer periods of time are required to save
the Earth's greatest rainforest.  But these tentative deforestation
figures do appear to indicate that when the Brazilian government gets
serious about reducing deforestation, they can have an impact - at least
in the short term.
g.b.

LIST NOTE: After several weeks retooling the Forest Conservation Newsfeed
at http://forests.org/news/ and a brief vacation, this list should settle
in to its historical volume of 2 items a week.  Note additional writing
that highlights major happenings in forest conservation policy can be
found at the Forest Conservation Blog at http://forests.org/blog/ .
 
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RELAYED TEXT STARTS HERE:

ITEM #1
Title:  Brazil: Deforestation of Amazon 'halved'
Source: Copyright 2005, BBC
Date: August 27, 2005
Byline:  Tom Gibb

Brazil's government has announced estimates suggesting that deforestation
of the Amazon rainforest has fallen by 50% this year.

The government says it believes this is the result of new protection
policies.

But environmental groups warn it is too soon to be sure there has been a
long-term reversal in the destruction of the world's largest rainforest.

Environment Minister Marina da Silva said some 9,000 sq km (3,475 sq
miles) of forest was felled in the last year.

This compares with more than 18,000 sq km (6,950 sq miles) in 2003 to
2004.

Ms Silva said she believed this fall was the result of not only greater
government control but also because of more emphasis on sustainable
development projects.

Illegal logging crackdown

However, environmental groups, while welcoming the fall, are still
treating the announcement with caution.

The figures, they say, are still estimates from satellite images which,
because of cloud cover, have a 20% margin of error.

They say a fall in soy prices may also have had an impact, with farmers no
longer clearing land.

Finally, they point out that most of the fall in deforestation occurred
over a two-month period in June and July this year, when the army and
police mounted unusually large operations against illegal logging.

Greenpeace said it was too soon to talk about a long-term slowing of the
destruction of the forest, warning that illegal loggers may just be biding
their time.

The only firm conclusion, the group said, was that when the government
decides to mount major operations against illegal loggers, this does have
a positive short-term effect.


ITEM #2
Title:  Amazon deforestation is slowing, says Brazil
Source: Copyright 2005, Reuters
Date: August 27, 2005

Brasilia - Brazil said on Friday that the deforestation of the Amazon
rainforest was slowing, but environmental groups suggested much of the
reduction was due to a slump in farming instead of government action.

Using data obtained by satellite, the government estimated that 9 106km2
were razed in the world's largest tropical forest between August 2004 and
July 2005, down sharply from 18 724km2 in the same period a year earlier.

Officials attributed the drop to a government action plan launched last
year aimed at curbing illegal logging in the Amazon, home to an estimated
30 percent of the world's animal and plant species.

"We have absolute certainty that the good indicators will continue to
depend on the implementation of the action plan," said Dilma Roussef, a
senior cabinet member co-ordinating the g  [ send green star]
 
 August 28, 2005 8:06 AM

government's environmental task
force.

The announcement came less than three months after the government of
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who came to power in 2003 with the
backing of environmentalists, released official data showing that the
Amazon rainforest was destroyed at a near-record pace in 2003-2004.

In that period, 26 130km2 - an area larger than the US state of New Jersey
- were destroyed, compared with 24 597km2 a year earlier.

The worst year on record was 1994-1995, when 29 050km2.

Although environmental groups praised the government's efforts to save the
rain forest, some warned the pace of deforestation could easily rise again
if commodity prices recover, giving farmers an incentive to clear more
land.

"With the drop in profitability faced by the (agricultural) sector, the
reduction in deforestation is, unfortunately, less the result of
government action than the current economic situation," the Brazilian
chapter of the World Wildlife Fund said in a statement.

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gbarry@forests.org

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