July 26, 2011

Deforestation in Brazil Declines in June, but Still Up for the Year

During the month of June 100 square kilometers (24,700 acres) of new deforestation was observed in the Amazon Region of Brazil. Compared to June of 2010, this represents a reduction of 42%. This is according to the Institute of Man and the Environment in the Amazon (Imazon), a non-governmental organization that tracks deforestation in Brazil.

During the past eleven months from August 2010 until June 2011, 1,534 square kilometers (378,900 acres) of land was deforested in the Amazon Region of Brazil which is 15% more than the previous year. The official estimates of deforestation in Brazil are calculated by the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) and they will release their latest yearly figures in October or November.

The increase in deforestation over the last year is probably due to landowners trying to get ahead of new restrictive clearing regulations associated with legislation labeled as the new Forestry Code. During the late spring and early summer, there were very heated debates in the Brazilian Congress as to the nature of these new restrictions. A final version of the legislation has been put off until later this year, but it is suspected that landowners increased their land clearing activities in the hope that the cleared land would be "grandfathered in" under the old regulations.

The two states with the most deforestation during the month of June were Para and Mato Grosso, which together constituted 70% of all the deforestation. The state of Para registered 45 square kilometers of deforestation (11,100 acres) followed by Mato Grosso at 25 square kilometers (6,100 acres), Amazonas at 19 square kilometers (4,700 acres), and Rondonia at 10 square kilometers (2,470 acres).

In addition to clear-cutting, Imazon also monitors degraded forests caused by intense logging or sporadic burning. During June 193 square kilometers (47,600 acres) of Amazon forests fell into that category as well.