Amazon Deforestation Rate is the Lowest in Decades

Photo: Stephen Messenger

Over the past several years, the Brazilian government has been tackling deforestation in the Amazon with vigor, and it seems all their efforts are paying off. In an announcement made today, Brazil confirmed that the rate of forest loss over the last year represents the lowest in over two decades since record-keeping began -- and down over 13 percent from the last year. The nation's Environmental Minister describes the progress as "fantastic." According to INPE, the institute responsible for monitoring deforestation in the Amazon, between August 2009 and July 2010 some 2,490 square miles of forest were razed. While the rate is still much higher than officials had hoped, it is the lowest recorded since 1988 when satellite monitoring was first used to measure deforestation.

INPE's director, Gilberto Camara, credited a series of "coordinated actions" taken on behalf of the Brazilian government to combat deforestation, as well as an increase in "corporate responsibility" to not buy meat or soy produced on cleared areas of forest.

Since the height of deforestation rates in 2004, government intervention and stepped-up law enforcement have steadily reduced Amazon forest loss. Still, officials had been hoping that this year's figures would represent a drop of 20 percent from the last, but they are happy with the progress being made.

"This has been step in the right direction in the management of deforestation in this country," said Brazilian Environmental Minister Izabela Teixeira.

The data may be presented at the climate change conference in Cancun, perhaps in part to demonstrate the effectiveness of Brazil's anti-deforestation regulations as the nation nears its goal of reducing the practice 70 percent by 2015 put forth by the country's outgoing president, Lula da Silva.

And the nation seems to be on the right track to meeting those goals.

"We ended [this administration] with a rate that makes us proud," says Teixeira.

More on Deforestation in the Amazon
Brazil Announces Plan to Slow Amazon Deforestation by 70%
How Brazil Cut Deforestation Rates to Record Lows
Brazil's Beef & Leather Giants Unite Against Amazon Deforestation

Tags: Amazonia | Brazil | Deforestation