Brazilian Government Reveals Continued Increase in Amazon Deforestation Rates

July 6, 2010

On the eve of the release of shocking new data on Amazon deforestation rates, Greenpeace today called on the Government of Brazil to reduce deforestation to zero by the year 2010.

The new information, due to be released by the Ministry of
Environment later today, shows that uncontrolled destruction of the
Amazon forest continues at an alarming rate: from August 1999 to
August 2000 deforestation increased by 15%. According to INPE,
Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, who monitor
deforestation via satellite, the total annual deforested area
equalled 19,836 square kilometers (7658.6796 square miles) – the
equivalent of 4 million soccer fields — compared to 17,259 square
kilometers (6663.6999 square miles) from August 1998 to August

“The new figures clearly show that efforts by the Brazilian
Government have failed to stop, or even to slow, deforestation of
the Amazon”, said Paulo Adário, Greenpeace Amazon Campaigner. “This
loss of forest cover in the Amazon is unacceptable and
unsustainable. Scientific studies have repeatedly shown that Amazon
soil is not suitable for agriculture and cattle ranching. The
biological richness of the region lives only in the standing
forest. To continue unchecked deforestation means to condemn the
Amazon to inevitable environmental and social crises”.

An important footnote to this new data is that the satellite
TM-Landsat, used by INPE, does not include deforestation of areas
smaller than 6.4 hectares. This means that the impacts of hundreds
of thousands of small-scale farmers are not included.

The data also does not include the impacts of selective removal
of commercially valuable species by the thousands of illegal
loggers operating in the region. According to researcher Daniel
Nepstad, cited in an article in Nature in 2000, selective logging
impacted on 15,000 square kilometers (5791.5 square miles) in 1997

Greenpeace said that instead of weakening the forest legislation
though proposed changes to Brazil’s Forest Code that would increase
the loss of forest coverage (1), Brazil must urgently adopt a
meaningful and monitorable national program to fight deforestation.
For that, Greenpeace calls on the Government of Brazil to
implementation national and international commitments made by
Brazil during Eco-92 within the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD)
(2), and to embark on a series of domestic measures to curb

  • Appropriation of land held illegally, which according to the
    government totals approximately 100 million hectares or 20% of the
    Amazon region, for conversion to protected areas such as parks and
    reserves for sustainable use;
  • Establishment of conservation units that have already been
    approved but have not yet been created;
  • Redirection of landless people being relocated through the
    National Program of Agrarian Reform to already deforested
  • Strengthening of the institutions charged with environmental
    protection such as IBAMA and State Secretaries of Environment;
  • Adoption of systems and controls to deter production of timber
    from deforestation and benefit timber production from areas under
    sustainable forest management and FSC certification (3).
  • Financial and institutional strengthening of community based
    forest management;
  • Expansion of governmental programs to fight forest fires;
  • Demarcation of all Indigenous lands.

“Only 22% of the earth’s original forest coverage remains.
Western Europe has lost almost 98% of its primary forests; Asia
94%; Africa 92%; Oceania 78%; North America 66%, and South America
54%” said Greenpeace USA, Forest Campaigner Scott Paul.
“Approximately 45% of the world’s tropical forests, originally
covering 1.4 billion hectares, have disappeared in the last few

“In 1970, only 1% of the Brazilian Amazon had been deforested.
By 2000 almost 15% had been destroyed. This means a forest area the
size of France lost in only 30 years. Stopping forest destruction
has become a global priority. It must become a Brazilian priority
before it is too late to act,” concluded Adario.

More information:

Paulo Adário, (5592) 627.9001 or (5592) 9985.5001

Rebeca Lerer, (5592) 9995.2070 or (5511) 9169.7953

Notes to Editors:

(1) Since 1999, the farmers’ lobby group of the Brazilian
National Congress, represented by Federal Deputy Moacir Micheletto
(PMDB-PR) and by the National Confederation of Agriculture (CNA) –
has been lobbying for a proposal to change Brazilian legislation on
forest protection, the Forest Code. If successful, this would allow
– among other things – deforestation of up to 50% of private
properties in the Amazon region. Besides increasing deforestation,
the proposal would reduce and, in some cases eliminate, Areas of
Permanent Preservation.

(2) When Brazil hosted Eco-92 and participated in the drafting
of texts that resulted in creation of the Convention of
Biodiversity (CBD), the country assumed a responsibility to reduce
deforestation rates and to implement measures for conservation and
sustainable use of forest areas. Among these responsibilities are:
to protect the forests, to establish mechanisms to fund sustainable
activities in the forest sector, to conserve forest biodiversity,
to guarantee that benefits from sustainable exploitation are
reverted to local populations and to assure the survival of
indigenous peoples. The next CBD meeting will take place in The
Netherlands in April 2002.

(3) The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international
organization based in Oaxaca, Mexico, whose membership is comprised
of forest sector companies, and environmental and social entities.
FSC is the only international body with a product labeling system
that guarantees consumers that wood products have been harvested
from sustainably managed forests.

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