Threatened Amazon rainforests not yet out of the woods

Trees in the Amazon basin are still being felled at an alarming rate as the latest figures from Brazil show deforestation last year was at the second highest level ever recorded.

The Brazilian government has released figures showing 10,088 square miles, an area almost one and a half times the size of Wales, was destroyed last year.

This is despite the government’s efforts to take a tougher stand against forest clearance and represents the second highest recording made, topped only by levels in 1994-1995 where 11,216 square miles fell to the chainsaws.

The figures mean just under a fifth of the world’s rainforests, home to a huge number of plant and animal species, have now been destroyed.

The records were released just days before the United Nations Forum on Forests were due to meet in New York to review the effectiveness of the international arrangement on forests and other efforts to promote sustainable forestry.

Despite these efforts, however, the threat to the Amazon continues as agriculture in Brazil booms and farmers can see huge profits to be made from grazing cattle or growing soy.

The success of the farming sector is making the future of the forest look even more bleak, as the conflicting needs of agriculture and conservation vie for the ear of the politicians.

The Green Party has quit Brazil’s ruling coalition in disgust over the figures, but there is still a question mark over whether the government has the political will or resources to tackle the problem.

by Sam Bond

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