Brazil says Amazon deforestation reduced by nearly 84 percent


SÃO PAULO, Brazil — Brazil said Wednesday it had reduced Amazon deforestation by nearly 84 percent over the past eight years.

Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said that from August 2011 to July 2012, 4,571 square kilometers (1,764 square miles) of Amazon rainforest were destroyed, which is 27 percent less than during the previous corresponding period. It was also the lowest rate of destruction since Brazil began monitoring the Amazon's deforestation, and was the fourth consecutive annual reduction.

Teixeira said the country "reached 76 percent of its voluntary deforestation reduction goal in the Amazon as agreed in Copenhagen in 2009," referring to an international conference on climate change held that year.

The goal set at the conference put the deforestation ceiling at 3,900 square kilometers (1,505 square miles) in 2020.

More from GlobalPost: Is the Brazilian Amazon shrinking faster?

Provisional data has shown that deforestation between August 2012 and April 2013 totaled 1,900 square kilometers.

Greenpeace, however, has accused the Brazilian government of failing to acknowledge a sharp rise in Amazon deforestation since last year. The environmental organization put the blame on Brazil's revised version of its Forest Code, which governs how much forest a private landholder must preserve.

Environmentalists have said the new Forest Code is less restrictive than the previous version and will allow increased deforestation.

Key causes of forest destruction include fires, agriculture and livestock expansion, and illegal trafficking of timber and minerals.

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