After more than six years of steady decline, the Amazon deforestation rate, which serves as vital lungs for the planet, more than doubled in just six months this year, according to the nonprofit research institute Imazon. Observers blame the increase in part on Brazil’s weakened Forest Code, established to protect the rainforest by limiting how much land can be cleared and developed. Senior researcher Paulo Barreto explains, “Imazon uses satellite images to evaluate the deforestation monthly.”
In May 2012, the Brazilian Congress changed the Legal Reserve rule that requires landowners to keep 80 percent of their property forested by eliminating mandatory fines as long as the land is reforested. But enforcement is difficult and the land is often used for growing cash crops such as soybeans or raising cattle.
New guidelines also allow clear-cutting closer to riverbanks, and environmentalists are alarmed about threats to biodiversity. Additionally, 60 new dams are on the government’s agenda.
Source: Living on Earth (loe.org)