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The National Institute for Space Research (INPE) confirmed on Wednesday 10th September that deforestation in the Legal Amazon reach a total of 5,891 square kilometres between August 2012 and July. This has increased by around 29% compared to the previous 12 months period. The rate outstripped government forecasts made last November by 1%, and was released by pressure from non-governmental organizations.

Marco Lentini - coordinator of WWF-Brasil's Amazon Programme ponders the question is whether today's announcement points to an increase in the rate of deforestation of the largest tropical forest on the planet in the coming years". The rate released this week may have been influenced by factors as the new Forest Code. But, according to him, this can only be confirmed when the preliminary rates for the period 2013-2014 are announced, which should happen after the general elections, in next november.

"The government talks about 'efficiency' in the fight against deforestation, with a 79% reduction since 2004'. But any deforestation - particularly illegal - is totally unacceptable and should be stopped immediately", said Lentini.

For the programme coordinator, apart from biodiversity loss, the destruction of the forest paints an uncertain future for the communities and economies that depend on the Amazon forest, and grave consequences for the climate due to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions and changes in the rainfall regime that impact the Southeast and South regions of the country.

Lentini defends the need to strengthen mechanisms to value and protect the forest, such as the Forest Code. Furthermore, monitoring of deforestation needs to be expanded to all Brazilian biomes, which also harbour remarkably high levels of biodiversity and are losing native vegetation cover on a daily basis without anybody noticing.

With the purpose of defending sustainable development and the country's natural riches, WWF-Brasil has made a number of proposals for the future government which it is debating with the main 2014 election candidates. These proposals include annual monitoring of deforestation and implementation of control and prevention plans for each biome to stop illegal deforestation and get close to achieving zero native vegetation loss and degradation of natural ecosystems.

Degradation - in the beginning of September, INPpublished data on forest degradation; a silent form of destruction that does not visibly alter the forest landscape, but has damaging effects on the integrity of the forest.

Between 2007 and 2013, forest degradation in the Amazon - caused mainly by selective timber extraction and burning - exceeded 10 million hectares.

According to INPE, degradation occurs in the states with the highest rates of deforestation, principally Pará and Mato Grosso, indicating that these actions are illegal and feed the clandestine trade in timber, since the two states are the largest producers of native timber in the country.

Deforestation rates in the Legal Amazon by state

STATE
DEFORESTATION (sq km)

ACRE
221

AMAZONAS
583

AMAPÁ
23

MARANHÃO
403

MATO GROSSO
1,139

PARÁ
2,346

RONDÔNIA
932

RORAIMA
170

TOCANTINS
74

LEGAL AMAZON
5,891

Source: Inpe
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