photo: Leo Freitas via flickr
Last summer you probably saw a number of encouraging reports showing that deforestation in Brazil was declining. However as Mongabay points out, new satellite data shows that deforestation is again increasing and may be even higher than current imagery indicates.Brazil's deforestation-tracking satellite system shows that in March and April 2010 nearly double the amount of forest was cleared (103.5 square miles) over the same period last year. Three quarters of this deforestation occurred in the state of Mato Grosso, where industrial agriculture is expanding.
Mongabay points out two important factors to keep in mind:
1) The actual rate of deforestation may be higher, as the month-to-month data during the rainy season is spotty due to cloud cover; we'll have to wait til July for more accurate information.
2) The increase in deforestation now, as well as last year's decrease, are directly tied to the state of the economy.
Forest clearing in the August 2008-July 2009 period was unusually low due to the global financial crisis, which dried up credit and depressed prices of commodities produced in the Amazon. Prices of beef and soy have surged since last year, while banks and commodity traders have resumed lending to farmers and ranchers.
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More on Deforestation:
Amazon Deforestation Drops 46% in One Year
Deforestation Increased as World Prepared for COP15
Stopping Deforestation, Greening Agriculture Better Than Carbon Capture & Storage: UNEP