Environmentalists fear that changes to rules governing agriculture in the Amazon are causing deforestation to rise again
Deforestation in the Amazon jumped by 28% in the year to July 2013, according to the Brazilian government. This has led to fears among environmental groups that Amazonian forest loss is once again on an upward trend following overall decline since 2004.
Official figures indicate that 5,843 square km (2,256 square miles) of rainforest was cleared in 2013, compared with 4,571 square km in the previous year – which was the lowest loss since 1988.
A recent report in Science magazine says Brazil had been making the best progress of all countries in slowing deforestation until the recent relapse. Forest loss had been declining at an annual average rate of 1,318 square km.
According to the World Resources Institute, Brazil and Indonesia currently account for around half of all global tropical deforestation. The two countries are losing roughly the same amount of forest per year, despite the difference in their size.
Forest code and soy moratorium
The reasons for the recent rise are still unclear and will require lengthy field verification. Environmental groups, however, say the increase is a result of changes to Brazil’s forest code passed by the government in 2012 – the result of heavy lobbying from Brazil’s agricultural sector.
Changes include an...
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