Amazon Deforestation Drops 46% In One Year

rainforest canopy photo

Photo via MiguelVieira via Flickr CC

Despite the fact that logging rates in the Amazon skyrocketed in June, the figures put out by the Deforestation Detection in Real Time (DETER) and the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) say that it looks like 2008-2009 was a great year for the rainforests, with logging rates dropping 46%. Could this rate - as low as it's been since these groups started monitoring in 2004 - signal a new page turned over for the Amazon?Compared to the rate of August 2007 to July 2008, the period of August 2008 to July 2009 showed a significant drop, and that's in no small part due to increased policing, at least according to the Brazilian Minister of the Environment, Carlos Minc.

Em Questao, the digital newsletter of the Secretariat of Communications of the Presidency of Brazil, reports:

Over the last year, IBAMA seized 62 boats, 237 trucks and 44 tractors, and the federal police initiated 650 probes and arrested 298 people.

According to Minister Minc, further reductions in the deforestation rate are expected this year through Macro Ecological-economic Zoning in the Amazon Region (to be concluded by January 2010), Arco Verde Legal Land Operation (which served 146 thousand people in 26 of the most deforested municipalities), the Amazon Fund to finance preservation activities, and land property regularization.

We've seen the struggles with Brazilian logging and the law before - with hackers breaking into logging records to increase how much can be poached, to barcode technology for tracking legally felled trees, to Amazonian tribes people using Google Earth to monitor deforestation in their area - so is it possible that the increased attention on logging practices could be making a difference? Brazil announced last year a goal of decreasing logging by 70%, however whether or not this 46% drop is accurate is questionable.

July represented a 160% increase in deforested areas over the previous year, from 323 sq km in 2008 to 836 sq km in 2009, as recorded by satellite data, so perhaps the decrease is just a fluke in numbers. We can be hopeful, however, that it won't slow the effort on the part of global organizations and local governments to reduce logging and improve forestry practices for this vital part of our planet for everything from biodiversity to global temperatures.

More on Amazon Deforestation
Cattle Pastures in Deforested Amazon Now the Size of Iceland
Carbon Emissions From Amazon Deforestation Increase as Older Forest Cleared
Global Shoe Brands May Be Unwittingly Causing Deforestation in the Amazon: New Greenpeace Report Says

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