Amazon deforestation in 2009 declines to lowest on record
Annual deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon fell below 10,000 square kilometers for the first time since record-keeping began, reported Brazil's Environment Minister Carlos Minc on Sunday.
Minc said preliminary data from the country's satellite-based deforestation detection system (DETER) showed that Amazon forest loss between August 2008 and July 2009 would be below 10,000 square kilometers, the lowest level in more than 20 years. Official figures are due out in August or September.
Falling commodity prices, which have reduced financial incentives to chop down trees and restricted agricultural credit to ranchers and farmers, and government action to crack down on illegal clearing are credited for the decline in deforestation.
Conversion to cattle pasture accounts for roughly 80 percent of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. Pasture is used for beef production as well as to speculate on rising land prices.
Nearly 20 percent of the Amazon has been cleared since the 1970s, but the Brazilian government has recently committed to significant reductions in deforestation under its climate change mitigation plan. The country aims to raise more than $20 billion in donations from industrialized countries to fund forest conservation.