9
Apr
2004

Amazon shrinkage alarms activists

Much Amazon destruction occurs due to logging to create farms

Environmental groups are calling for urgent action to slow deforestation in Brazil's Amazon jungle.

About 9,170 square miles (23,750 sq km) of forest were lost in 2003, just up from 8,983 square miles (23,266 sq km) in 2002, the Brazilian government says.

The scale is not as high as in the mid-1990s, but it confirms the world's largest forest is disappearing rapidly.

Rising exports of beef and soya in Brazil are said to encourage farmers to clear the forest for farms.

Scientists fear the clearances could affect the global climate as well as threatening thousands of unique plant and animal species.

"I am worried - the figures are too high," said Rosa Lemos de Sa of conservation group WWF Brazil.

"The tendency is for it to stay high unless drastic measures are taken, and I don't see the government doing anything drastic."

Brazil's environment minister said the growth rate of deforestation had been halted.

"The big challenge is that 23,000 (sq km) is still a very worrying number," said Marina da Silva.

Criticism

Last month, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva unveiled plans to halt the destruction amid criticism his government failed to act.

He promised satellite monitoring and joint action by ministries after a 28 % jump in deforestation between 2001 and 2002 pushed the level toward the record rate seen in 1995.

On Wednesday, the government announced it had overestimated its 2001-2 figure of 10,190 square miles (25,500 sq km) and revised it to 8,983 square miles (23,260 sq km).

//news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3609887.stm


Informant: NHNE
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