Destruction of the Amazon is way up this year

After four years of decline, deforestation jumped 28 percent

Topics: amazon, Rainforest, Brazil, Deforestation, Conservation, ,

An encouraging four-year trend toward preserving the Amazon rain forest was reversed by a jump in deforestation this year, the Brazilian government reported Thursday.

The amount of land cleared from August 2012 to July 2013 increased 28 percent, according to satellite data, to a scattered total of 2,250 square miles. The year before, only 1,765 square miles were cleared. From the Associated Press:

Environmentalists blame the increase on a loosening of Brazil’s environmental laws. They also say that the government’s push for big infrastructure projects like dams, roads and railways is pushing deforestation.

A bill revising the Forest Code law passed Congress last year after more than a decade of efforts by Brazil’s powerful agricultural lobby to make changes to what has been one of the world’s toughest environmental laws, at least on paper.

The changes mostly eased restrictions for landowners with smaller properties, allowing them to clear land closer to riverbanks and other measures. Perhaps the most controversial portion of the new law was what activists say was an amnesty, allowing those who illegally felled land to not face penalties if they signed an agreement to replant trees, which many environmentalists question could be enforced.

Those 2,250 square miles still represent the second-lowest amount of jungle destroyed since Brazil began keeping track, in 1988. But scientists and environmentalists fear this could signal the end of the progress that, before now, Brazil had been making.

Lindsay Abrams
Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email labrams@salon.com.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 10
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Michael Ohl/Museum fur Naturkunde

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Soul-Sucking Dementor Wasp

    Latin name: Ampulex dementor

    Truong Ngyuen

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    10,000th reptile species

    Latin name: Cyrtodactylus vilaphongi

    Jodi Rowley/Australian Museum

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Colour-changing thorny frogs

    Latin name: Gracixalus lumarius

    Judith L. Eger

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Long-fanged bat

    Latin name: Hypsugo dolichodon

    Neang Thy Moe/FFI

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Stealthy wolf snake

    Latin name: Lycodon zoosvictoriae

    Michael Janes

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Feathered coral

    Latin name: Ovabunda andamanensis

    Jerome Constant

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    World's second-longest insect

    Phryganistria heusii yentuensis

    Nantasak Pinkaew

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Slide 8

    Latin name: Sirindhornia spp

    Tim Johnson

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Slide 9

    Tylototriton shanorum

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...