By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Brazil to send extra police, environmental agents to reduce Amazon deforestation
Brazil Amazon Defor 5355546
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, left, listens to his Environment Minister Marina Silva during an emergency cabinet meeting at the Planalto presidential palace in Brasilia, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2008. Lula called for the meeting to consider emergency measures to stop deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rain forest, which jumped dramatically in the final months of 2007. - photo by Associated Press
    BRASILIA, Brazil — Brazil will combat rising deforestation in the Amazon by sending extra federal police and environmental agents to areas where illegal clearing of the rain forest jumped dramatically last year, officials said Thursday.
    Authorities will also monitor the areas where the deforestation occurred in an attempt to prevent anyone from trying to plant crops or raise cattle there, said Environment Minister Marina Silva.
    The measures were announced after President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called an emergency meeting of Cabinet ministers because new data showed an apparent reverse of a three-year decline that Silva has repeatedly praised.
    The clearing of Brazil’s Amazon rain forest jumped in the final months of 2007, spurred by high prices for corn, soy and cattle. The 36 areas being targeted registered the highest rates of deforestation, environmental officials said.
    Officials will also try to fine people or businesses who buy anything produced on the deforested land in the 36 small cities and towns, the environment minister said.
    The plan means a 25 percent increase in the police force assigned to the region, though Justice Minister Tarso Genro did not say how many officers will take part.
    If the plan doesn’t work, minister Silva said Brazil ‘‘will have an environmental loss and an economic loss.’’
    Silva’s ministry announced Wednesday that as much as 2,700 square miles of rain forest was cleared from August through December, meaning that Brazil could lose 5,791 square miles of jungle by August of this year if the rate continues.
    That would be a 34 percent increase from the 4,334 square miles that was cut down and burned from August 2006 through July of last year.
    Although preliminary calculations can only prove that 1,287 square miles of rain forest were cleared from August through December, ministry executive secretary Joao Paulo Capobianco said officials are still analyzing satellite imagery and working under the assumption that the higher amount of jungle was cleared.
    Associated Press Writer Alan Clendenning contributed to this report from Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter