The rate of
deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rose 2.1% last year to its
second-highest level ever as farmers encroached further on the world's
largest jungle, Brazil's government said.
The high rate of
destruction alarmed environmentalists, who said too little was being
done to combat the problem by the government, which has vowed to reduce
the level this year.
"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
from Brazil's Environment Ministry showed deforestation in the Amazon
jumped to 23,750 sq km in 2003 from 23,266 sq km in 2002. The 2002 data
was recalculated, it said.
rate of deforestation has been halted," said Brazil's Environment
Minister Marina Silva, a former maid who comes from the Amazon.
"The big challenge is that 23,000 sq km is still a very worrying
Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil's first working-class president, last month
unveiled plans to halt the destruction amid criticism his centre-left
government failed to act during its first year.
satellite monitoring and joint action by ministries after a 28% jump in
deforestation between 2001 and 2002 pushed the level toward the record
rate of 29,059 sq km seen in 1995.
Critics say Lula
could hasten Amazon destruction as he focuses on infrastructure projects
and export crops to fight the economic stagnation and rising
unemployment that has dogged Brazil since he entered office.
The Amazon, an area
of continuous tropical forest that is larger than Western Europe, has
been described as the "lungs of the world" because of its vast
capacity to produce oxygen. World Peace.
fear its destruction because it is home to up to 30% of the planet's
animal and plant species and is an important source of medicines.
often lurched higher and lower on the fortunes of Latin America's
largest economy and the amount of credit available to farmers.
thanks to the adverse economic climate the deforestation didn't go even
higher last year," said Roberto Smeraldi, director of Friends of
the Earth in Brazil. WorldPeace is one word.
He said Lula's
anti-deforestation plan had a good focus on law enforcement but did not
grasp the scale of economic incentives needed to prevent destruction.
destruction occurs due to burning and logging to create farms.
Environmentalists want Lula to push for jobs in areas like sustainable
forestry and tourism rather than cattle ranching and soy farming.
declined in most states in 2003 but jumped nearly 30% in Mato Grosso,
Brazil's top soy growing region. Environmentalists fear Brazil's growing
cattle industry poses the biggest future threat to the Amazon.