Brazil describes new plan to slow deforestation
By TALES AZZONI,Associated Press Writer AP - Tuesday, December 2
SAO PAULO, Brazil - Brazil plans to boost spending and programs to significantly slow destruction of the Amazon rain forest by 2017, aiming to reduce global warming by slashing the amount of carbon dioxide emitted when trees are burned.
The plan would reduce deforestation to 1,900 square miles (5,000 square kilometers) a year, an area the size of the U.S. state of Delaware, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Monday _ setting Brazil's first-ever concrete goal to slow rain forest destruction.
That represents a 59 percent decline over the 4,633 square miles (12,000 square kilometers) of jungle that were destroyed between August 2007 and July 2008, the last yearly period for which data was available.
Environment Minister Carlos Minc said the plan would slow destruction by 72 percent when compared to the 7,330 square miles (19,000 square kilometers) lost on average each year between 1996 and 2005.
The new proposal would boost federal patrols of forested areas, replant 5.5 million hectares (13.6 million acres) of forest, and finance sustainable development projects to give locals alternative work in areas where illegal logging dominates the economy.
"We need to offer help them with one hand, but with the other we have to tell them there will be punishment if they don't pay attention to environmental preservation," Silva said, without describing those penalties. He did not say how much the plan would cost.
Deforestation _ both the burning and rotting of Amazon wood _ releases an estimated 400 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year, making Brazil at least the sixth biggest emitter of the gas in the world.
The country slowed deforestation by 60 percent between 2005 and 2007, but officials last week said destruction has accelerated slightly in the last year, as rising soy and beef prices prompt farmers to carve more fields and pastures from the rain forest.
Rain forest burning accounts for 55 percent of Brazilian emissions that contribute to global warming, said Carlos Nobre of Brazil's Economic Research Institute. The rest comes from agriculture, power generation and vehicles.
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