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Brazil sets up crisis centre for rainforest

Brazil has set up a crisis centre to combat increased deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, the nation's environmental minister said yesterday.

Minister Izabella Teixeira said officials had to take action after satellite data showed a significant increase in deforestation over the past two months.

"We created a crisis committee... to determine and combat the causes of this increase," Mrs Teixeira said.

The committee, which will meet weekly, is made up of environmental agents, federal police, highway federal police and state agents. It will coordinate about 700 agents and police officers in the region to fight deforestation.

Satellite images from Brazil's National Institute for Space Research showed 230 square miles of deforestation in March and April, nearly six times more than in the same period last year.

Environmental experts warned that as the global economy recovers from financial crisis, the deforestation rates would rise as demand for soy and cattle raised in the Amazon increases and farmers and ranchers cleared more land to produce those products.