Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon Dropped to Record Low Last Year

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon dropped to a new record low during the year ending in July, according to preliminary government data. About 2,408 square miles (6,238 square kilometers) of rainforest were cleared from August 2010 to July 2011, a 10.9 percent reduction from the previous year, when about 2,700 square miles of forest were destroyed, an analysis of satellite data from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research shows. While Brazilian leaders attributed the trend to stricter enforcement of logging rules and sustainable development initiatives, analysts said slow economic growth was also a factor. The results reflect the continuation of a trend of significantly declining deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, where forest destruction peaked at about 9,650 square miles (25,000 square kilometers) annually in 2003 and 2004. The new findings come as Brazilian lawmakers prepare to vote on legislation that would ease the nation’s Forest Code, which requires property owners in the Amazon to maintain 80 percent of their holdings as forest.