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Speed of Amazon deforestation increased by 88% in 2012

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Deforestation in the Amazon rainforest has continued to increase, accelerating by 88% in 2012 according to satellite analysis.

Brazilian NGO Mongabay’s deforestation tracking system, SAD, detected that 1,570 square kilometres (sq km) of forest was lost between August 2012 and April 2013.

However, SAD, which is operational in Google Earth, also detected a decline in forest degradation by almost a quarter.

Earlier this month, Brazil’s National Space Research Agency (INPE) released figures estimating forest loss within the same period. Results showed a much lower rate of deforestation, with 1,864 sq km lost in 2012 – 14% higher than the previous year.

If deforestation continues to rise, by the end of this year, Brazil will fail in limiting forest clearing to 8,000 sq km – a target set for 2013 to conserve the 5.4m sq km that was left of the Amazon in 2012.

A recent study by NASA suggested that rapid degradation of the Amazon rainforest in 2005 could be attributed to climate change.

Mongabay’s satellite analysis follows research by scientists that links rainforests to the productivity of hydroelectricity generation. The study warned that if deforestation continues, the amount of energy produced by Belo Monte – one of the world’s biggest dams – could be reduced by over a third.

Further reading:

Brazil hydropower potential linked to Amazon conservation

NASA study links climate change with Amazon degradation

Healthy forests ‘crucial for economic development’

Buying sustainable Easter eggs can save the rainforest

Indonesian paper firm stops deforestation after decade-long protest

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