Government backtracking adds to massive Amazon deforestationBrasilia, Brazil / Gland, Switzerland – With over 26,000 square kilometres lost last year – more than half the size of Switzerland – the annual deforestation rate in the Amazon has again increased and is at its second highest ever.
Around 17 per cent of the natural vegetation in the Brazilian Amazon has already been devastated.
According to WWF, this clearly shows that the Brazilian government has not met its objectives, set in 2003, to reduce the deforestation of the Amazonian forest.
The global conservation organization criticizes the Brazilian government for promoting inconsistent policies, which encourage real estate speculation within forest areas in order to expand cattle ranching and industrial-scale farming.
According to WWF, this causes environmental and social devastation because of illegal land clearing, exploitation of workers, and criminal activities.
WWF also highlights the failure of the federal government and most of the region's states to adopt sustainable development as a policy for the Amazon.
"Despite the efforts of the Ministry of Environment, the federal government and state authorities are not committed enough to the fight against deforestation," said Denise Hamu, WWF-Brazil’s CEO.
"Governmental bodies and business corporations must do much more to reduce such a shocking deforestation rate, otherwise we run the real risk that a considerable part of the Brazilian forest will disappear before it has even been explored."
Although the Amazon Protected Areas Programme (ARPA), launched in 2002 and supported by WWF, set aside almost 16 million hectares of land for conservation and sustainable use, WWF believes that much more needs to be done to save the world's most important rainforest.
"Creating protected areas is a truly effective conservation measure, but it is not a sufficient mechanism to stop deforestation," added Denise Hamu. "We need to halt the rampant destruction of the forest and ensure that its resources benefit both people and nature."
1. The latest satellite data released by Brazil’s National Space Sciences Institute (INPE) reveals that deforestation in the Amazon from August 2003 to August 2004 significantly increased from the year before, when more than 23,000 square kilometres of Amazon forest disappeared.
2. The ARPA Proramme launched in 2002 by the Brazilian Federal Government is meant to protect a representative sample of the Amazon biodiversity through the creation and implementation of at least 50 million hectares of protected areas and the promotion of sustainable development in the region over the next ten years. Coordinated by the Ministry of the Environment and Ibama (the official environmental agency), it is implemented in partnership with state and municipal governments, the Brazilian Biodiversity Fund (Funbio), the Global Environmental Fund (GEF), the World Bank, KfW (The German government cooperation bank), GTZ (The German technical cooperation agency) and WWF.
For further information:
Helio Hara, Institutional Communications Officer
Tel: +55-61 364-7408 or +55-61-8151 4000 (mobile)
Soh Koon Chng, Communications Manager
WWF Global Forest Programme
Tel: + 41 22 364 9018
Olivier van Bogaert, Senior Press Officer
Tel: +41 22 364 9554