Second largest rate of Amazon deforestation in Brazilian history

Press release - 19 May, 2005
Greenpeace today reacted with condemnation and outrage to the new Amazon deforestation figures released by the Brazilian Government. The annual rate of Amazon deforestation for August 2003-August 2004 reached 26,130 square kilometres, the equivalent to six football fields destroyed every minute.

More than 70% of  Amazon loss occurred between May and July 2004,when President Lula's Action Plan to Curb Deforestation had alreadybeen adopted. The Plan, which was presented in March 2004, took sevenmonths of elaboration and had the participation of 13 Ministriescommitting resources, defining responsibilities and setting atimetable.

"Clearly Lula's administration has failed up to now to implement theAction Plan and to protect the Amazon,"said Paulo Adario, GreenpeaceAmazon Campaign Coordinator. "Although there have been positivemeasures taken by the Government, such as the creation of protectedareas and demarcation of Indigenous lands, the fact that the annualaverage of deforestation has been more than 23,000 km2 for the lastthree years is simply unacceptable. This is a national shame."

During the same period, Lula's Government has celebrated the rapidexpansion in grain production and world leadership in meat exports,with the Minister of Treasury Antonio Palocci declaring, "Agribusinessis the best business of Brazil (1). "  

Also, almost half (48%) of the deforestation occurred in the State ofMato Grosso, governed by the largest individual soy producer in theworld, Blairo Maggi. Of the 12,576 square kilometres lost in the State,4,176 km2 were authorised by the government. The rest was

illegal. Maggi doesn't hide his opinion about deforestation: "A 40percent increase in deforestation doesn't mean anything at all, and Idon't feel the slightest guilt over what we are doing here," Maggi saidin an interview to The New York Times in September 2003,

referring to the Amazon deforestation rate of the previous year (2).

"Agribusiness and illegal logging are key culprits of deforestation,"added Adario. "Lula's administration is facing a fundamentalcontradiction: to fight Amazon deforestation or to promote theexpansion of agribusiness to pay the Brazilian external debt. To make

a real difference on the ground, the Government needs restrict soyplantations only in areas already deforested, combat illegal logging,and effectively implement their own anti-deforestation Plan."

By allowing this level of Amazon destruction, the Government is alsocontributing to the devastating impacts of global warming. CO2emissions from deforestation and burning in the Amazon are the mainBrazilian contributions to climate change and there is growing evidencethat climate change is drying out the forests (3).

Other contacts: Paulo Adario, Greenpeace Amazon Campaign Coordinator: +55 92 81158928Tica Minami, Greenpeace Amazon Media Officer: +55 92 9995 2070

Notes: 1 .Statement at the Seminar "New Private Instruments for FinancingAgribusiness", in 14 April, 2005. Quoted by the newspaper O Liberal.2. "Relentless Foe of the Amazon Jungle: Soybeans" - NYT, 09/17/20033. A drier forest leads to more forest fires. Increased CO2 emissions contribute to more climate change. This in turn dries out the foresteven more, making it more susceptible to fires and dieback in avicious and devastating cycle.