The rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has worsened and is again on the rise, the government has revealed, saying 6,000 sq km (2,315 sq miles) of forest were cleared in the period up to July 2013.
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According to the Brazilian government, the states of Para and Mato Grosso have been the worst hit by the phenomenon, with more than 1,000 sq km (390 sq miles) of forest cleared in each state. Overall, the rate of deforestation has increased by 29%.
The final figures obtained by satellite observations confirmed the trend already highlighted in November last year, showing that the slow recovery occurred in previous years has been reversed.
With an overall 5,891 sq km of forest cleared – equivalent to the size of Puerto Rico – action is needed to stop deforestation, which is not only devastating one of the most fragile and diverse ecosystems in the world, but also accelerating global warming.
The wiping out of the Amazon rainforest results in 54 million tons of carbon being pumped into the atmosphere every year, according to a recent study. Trees in fact are crucial because they store significant amounts of carbon, mitigating the effects of climate change.
While some parts of the forest are cleared by indigenous communities for subsidence, the majority is consumer-driven and destroyed illegally.
A comprehensive analysis by US non-governmental organisation Forest Trends on the matter revealed that 49% of all recent tropical deforestation – including that in South East Asia – comes from illegal clearing for commercial agriculture, essential to supply products such as palm oil, soy and timber.
Photo: Neil Palmer (CIAT) via Flickr