Amazon rainforest continues to fall

Amazon rainforest continues to fall

Data released this week by Brazil’s ministry of environment indicate that in the year ending in August of 2004 approximately 26,130 square kilometers of Amazon rainforest were destroyed, a six percent increase over the previous twelve months and the second-highest amount of last deforested since measurements began to be taken in 1988.

This rate of destruction was much higher than had been expected. Almost half of the new deforestation occurred in the state of Mato Grosso, in the western part of the country and a main agricultural region. Environmental experts say that the deforestation is mainly caused by expanding agriculture, new roads, and economic growth.

Critics put much of the blame on the governor of Mato Grosso, who took office in 2002 and is one of the largest soybean producers in the world.

Much of the deforestation, however, is not directly caused by agriculture, according to some experts, but by expanding agriculture forcing cattle ranchers and small-scale farmers deeper into the forest. Rates of deforestation are determined by studying satellite photographs.


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