Deforestation in Amazonia drops by almost half in 2009-10
The rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest fell by 49 per cent this year, the Brazilian Environment Ministry said Monday, dpa reported.
According to a report released in Brasilia, around 1,809 square kilometres of rainforest were destroyed from August 2009-June 2010. Over 3,536 square kilometres were destroyed in the same period a year earlier.
Despite the progress detected by the National Institute of Space Research (INPE) using satellite equipment, the rainforest that was destroyed August-June is larger than the surface of Brazil's largest city, Sao Paulo.
INPE president Gilberto Camara admitted that the actual destruction could be more extensive than detected, because the radar system it uses only registers deforestation in areas larger than 50 hectares, and because the equipment has been hampered by dense cloud cover in recent months.
Still, Brazilian Environment Minister Izabela Teixeira was upbeat about the result.
"It's very good, and it underlines a trend that was already seen last year," she said.
The Amazon rainforest is the largest rainforest in the world, and most of it - equivalent to the size of Western Europe - lies within Brazil's borders.
According to the nature conservation non-governmental organization World Wildlife Fund (WWF), 17 per cent of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest has been destroyed over the past two decades.