Thursday, May 19, 2011

Deforestation surges as Brazil eyes new land law

Stuart Grudgings in Reuters: Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon surged in March and April, the government said on Wednesday, fueling criticism that a proposed law to ease land-use rules may be spurring illegal tree-felling. Brazil's Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira told reporters the government was creating a "crisis cabinet" to investigate the jump in destruction of the forest, which mostly occurred in the center-west farming state of Mato Grosso.

The area of Amazon forest lost in the two months totaled 229 square miles (593 square km), up 473 percent from the same period a year ago, preliminary satellite data showed. In the period from last August to April it rose 27 percent, raising the prospect that the closely watched annual deforestation rate will rise this year.

The unexpected leap, at a time of year when deforestation is usually low, comes as Brazil's Congress is locked in a heated debate over a law that would effectively give amnesty to many farmers who have illegally cleared land. Environmentalists say the bill gives too much weight to the economic interests of the influential farm lobby and will set back recent progress in reducing destruction of the world's largest forest….

Illegally logged wood in the Mato Grosso, shot by Wilson Dias/Abr., Wikimedia Commons via Agência Brasil, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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