Deforestation in Amazon jungle increases by nearly a third in one year

15.11.2013 14:25

Deforestation in the Amazon
increased by nearly a third over the
past year, according to Brazilian
government figures released on
The data confirms a feared
reversal in what had been steady
progress over the past decade against
destruction of the world's largest
Satellite data for the 12 months
through the end of July 2013 showed
that deforestation in the region
climbed by 28% compared with a
year earlier.
Although scattered, the total land
cleared during the period amounted
to 2,250 sq miles (5,850 sq km).
The figure, boosted partly by
expanding farms and a rush for land
around big infrastructure projects,
fulfilled predictions by scientists and
environmentalists that destruction
was on the rise again.
"You can't argue with numbers,"
said Marcio Astrini, co-ordinator for
the Amazon campaign at the
Brazilian chapter of Greenpeace.
"This is not alarmist – it's a real and
measured inversion of what had been
a positive trend."
Brazil tracks the amount of land
cleared each year as part of its efforts
to protect the Amazon, a jungle the
size of western Europe.
The Amazon is an abundant
source of the world's oxygen and
fresh water and considered by
scientists to be a crucial buffer
against climate change.
The measurement year for the
satellite data starts each August,
during the Amazon dry season, when
the skies are cloud-free and clear
aerial images can be recorded.
The reasons for the rebound in
deforestation are numerous. Changes
to Brazil's forestry laws have created
uncertainty among landowners
regarding the amount of woodland
they must preserve.
High global prices for
agricultural commodities have also
encouraged growers to cut trees to
make way for farmland.
Loggers, squatters and others are
also rushing to exploit land around
big infrastructure projects, including
railways, roads and hydroelectric
dams under construction in the
Izabella Teixeira, Brazil's
environment minister, dismissed
criticisms that government policies
had led to the increase.
She pointed to the long-term
decrease in deforestation over the
past decade and said the overall trend
was "positive".