August 31, 2008 in Nation/World

Amazon deforestation up sharply

Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Amazon deforestation jumped 69 percent in the past 12 months – the first such increase in three years – as rising demand for soy and cattle pushes farmers and ranchers to raze trees, officials said Saturday.

Some 3,145 square miles of forest were destroyed between August 2007 and August 2008 – a 69 percent increase over the 1,861 square miles felled in the previous 12 months, according to the National Institute for Space Research, or INPE, which monitors destruction of the Amazon.

“We’re not content,” environment minister Carlos Minc said. “Deforestation has to fall more and the conditions for sustainable development have to improve.”

Brazil’s government has increased cash payments to fight illegal Amazon logging this year, and it eliminated government bank loans to farmers who illegally clear forest to plant crops.

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