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Cablegate: Brazil Claims Amazon Destruction Is Declining

Published: Thu 14 Sep 2006 03:59 PM
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FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
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INFO RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 2853
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 8019
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SUBJECT: BRAZIL CLAIMS AMAZON DESTRUCTION IS DECLINING
1. The rate of deforestation of the Amazon is slowing according to
preliminary estimates announced by the Government of Brazil (GoB).
According to the data from the Ministry of Environment (MMA), the
country's deforestation rate has likely declined 11 % when compared
to 2004-2005 figures. This will be the second consecutive
deforestation rate drop under the administration of Environment
Minister Marina Silva.
2. According to the MMA, in the period from August 2004 to August
2005 approximately 18,793 square km of the Amazon were deforested, a
31 % drop when compared to the same period a year before, the best
result since 1997. GoB estimates show a probable 11 % drop in these
numbers for the same period in the 2005-2006 figures. Mato Grosso
is still the leading state in terms of deforestation, even tough it
presented a 34 % percent estimated reduction when compared to last
year. Sao Felix do Xingu, a city in the state of Para, is the
single largest municipal culprit in terms of deforestation. However,
local government has already presented a plan to cut down
deforestation in that state.
3. According to the Ministry current methodology, the deforestation
area will lie around 16,700 square km this year. Mato Grosso is
responsible for half of the devastated area. "We will have two
consecutive years with a rate less than 20,000 square km, returning
to levels of the mi-1990s", said Joao Paulo Capobianco, the MMA's
secretary of biodiversity and forests. Brazil's highest rate of
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destruction took place in 1995, when over 28,000 square km were
deforested. Nevertheless, the NGO Greenpeace has questioned the
number arguing that they have a study that points out an 8.4% raise
in deforestation rate.
4. Comment: It is evident that good work is being done by Minister
Marina Silva's administration. Three main factors are responsible
for this reduction: intensified monitoring of logging, stricter
control and increased organization of land titling and tenure and
the creation of 18 conservation units. Although a lot more needs to
be done, if the figures prove correct, it will be the first time in
over a decade that two consecutive decrease in deforestation rates
have taken place. End Comment
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