Just as we were heading out for a Friday evening pint we got word from our office in Manaus that we had something to celebrate. The Brazilian government announced that deforestation rates for the Amazon have dropped for the third year in a row.
And the rate of deforestation for the last year, from August 2006 to August 2007, was the lowest since the National Institute for Space research began monitoring deforestation in 1988.
The Brazilian government chalks this up to the creation of protected areas and greater government control, but also a reduction in agribusiness fortunes.
The Brazilian agriculture minister, Reinhold Stephanes, acknowledged the moratorium on trading in soya from freshly deforested areas last year was a significant factor in helping reduce deforestation. The moratorium on Amazon soya followed our campaign that exposed how soya farming had become a new threat to the rainforest.
The continuing reduction in deforestation clearly demonstrates that government efforts and markets pressure, together with economic factors, can protect the Amazon rainforest.
Our campaigner in the Amazon, Paulo Adario, say the time is now to continue and increase the fight against deforestation and definitely stop Amazon destruction.
The current increase in soya and beef prices - with cattle ranching areas becoming free of foot and moth disease - and the biofuels boom in Brazil could put pressure on Amazon land. There is also an imminent threat from the increasing number of fires burning in the Amazon since last June compared to the previous year.
It is particularly important to halt the deforestation in the face of climate change. Brazil is the world’s fourth-largest climate polluter and most of Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation, the majority coming from the clearing and burning of the Amazon rainforests.
Paulo says these latest figures are a positive sign for the future of the Amazon and the global climate. He wants to see a clear commitment on annual deforestation reduction targets – and thus greenhouse emissions.
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