Fears that the largest rainforest in the world, the Amazon is in peril seemed to have been temporarily put at bay as it was announced today that the South American rainforest, which encompasses an area of around seven million square kilometres, has reached its lowest deforestation level.
Having been monitoring the rate of deforestation in the rainforest for the past 24 years, the Brazilian government announced today that the Amazon had reached its lowest level since the monitoring began, falling by an encouraging 27 per cent compared to the previous year. While the rate of deforestation in the Amazon remains quite high, losing more than 4,600 square kilometres every year, the present news indicates a positive turnaround, one, according to Brazil’s environment minister, Izabella Teixeira, will continue to decrease, with the government hoping to reduce the amount of rainforest lost to 3,925 sq km in the next eight years or so. According to the Space Institute it is likely that Brazil will meet its target of cutting deforestation down to 80 per cent of 1990 levels. Of course Brazil’s efforts in this regard are of particular relevance as more than half of it, around 63 per cent is in Brazil.
Speaking about the new figures, obtained by Brazil's National Institute for Space Research, Ms Teixeira said that this reduction in the deforestation rate was largely due to the efforts of the Brazilian government, saying at a press conference, "It is the lowest deforestation rate since Brazil began its monitoring. I believe that it is the only good piece of environmental news." George Pinto, director of Brazil’s environmental protection agency, Ibama said the reduced levels were largely due to stricter enforcement laws and better surveillance.
However it was not all good news as the minister noted that while there was general decrease in the deforestation rate, at the state level, rises were seen where previously there were none with Ms Teixeira adding "Regrettably we have noticed that in states that didn't have an aggressive level of deforestation there has been a rise.”
By the different Brazilian states, Acre saw a rise of 10 per cent, Amazonas 29 per cent and Tocantins 33% however there were cases on the flipside as well as Mato Gross saw a 31 per cent reduction and Para 44 per cent.
Major sources of deforestation in the country are illegal timber and mining operations and the spread of agriculture and stockbreeding.