Amazon deforestation rate at historic low: Brazil

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The Independent Online

Deforestation of the Amazon forest has fallen to its lowest rate on record, dropping 14 percent compared to the previous survey period, Brazil's government said Wednesday.

Satellite imaging showed 6,451 square kilometers (2,491 square miles) of the jungle had been cut back between August 2009 and July 2010, an area equivalent to half the size of Lebanon or Jamaica.

That was less than for the corresponding 12-month period a year earlier, but still more than than the 5,000-square-kilometer target the government was aiming for.

Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira hailed the progress, saying it showed anti-deforestation measures started six years ago were still working.

"This is the smallest deforestation in the history of the Amazon. These numbers are fantastic," she said.

Cutting and burning of the Amazon forest is calculated to cause 20 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, making Brazil the fourth-biggest greenhouse gas polluter.

The government has pledged to cut Amazon deforestation by 80 percent over the next decade.

Teixeira said she would be going to UN climate talks under way in Mexico "proud" of Brazil's results so far and ready "to negotiate compromises and results with other countries."

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