Brazil on Thursday unveiled measures to slow deforestation of the Amazon region including one that calls for the army to help carry out inspections.
“Our aim is to establish institutional mechanisms to prevent deforestation,” Justice Minister Tarso Genro told reporters after an emergency meeting between Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his ministers.
Environment Minister Marina Silva said the recent rise in commodity prices may have contributed to the stepped-up pace of deforestation.
From August to December last year, 1,250 square miles of the Amazon forest, known as “the lungs of the world” for its ability to consume greenhouse gases and produce oxygen, were destroyed, according to the government. This figure is expected to double when higher resolution satellite images are analyzed.
Landowners in the area will have to prove they maintain preservation areas, and could face penalties like being denied official credit if they fail to meet some requirements. Additionally, companies like trading houses, soybean crushers and meat processors that buy commodities originating from destroyed areas of the forest will be considered responsible for deforestation.
The steps came one day after Brazilian officials said Amazon destruction had surged during the last five months of 2007. Deforestation rose from 94 square miles in August to 366 square miles in December.
* For a story of the settlers vs the environmentalists and local Indians; read here.