As everybody knows, the Amazon rainforest is one of the most important global ecosystems for the environmental health of the earth. As is also well known, over the past two decades it has been logged at an increasing rate: 20% of the rainforest has now been cleared. It’s therefore good news, on the face of it, that the rate of clearing has begun to clear, down to 5400 square miles between August 2005 and July 2006, a reduction of 25% on the previous 12 months. It is likely that the 2006-2007 year will show a further reduction to about 4000 square miles.
However, the result is far from all good news. These are still very large areas of forest clearing, and still rank among the highest national figures. Moreover, since most forest clearing is driven by the push to plant cash crops, notably soyabean, it is perhaps no accident that soyabean prices have been depressed over the recent period.
Most importantly, there are indications that the Brazilian government of Mr. Luiz da Silva, despite increased action against illegal logging, is planning large development projects, including new highway networks and hydroelectric plants in the Amazon region. As this government has presided over the greatest Amazonian rain-forest clearance rates in history, environmental groups, while pleased with the current trend, are understandably cautious about the medium and longer-term trends, particularly when soyabean prices rise.
Report from The Guardian link here.