Destruction of Brazil's most endangered forest, the Mata Atlantica, slows
Deforestation of Brazil's most threatened forest ecosystem dropped substantially during the 2008-2010 period according to new data released by Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE) and Fundação SOS Mata Atlntica.
Analysis of satellite images across 16 of the 17 states the Atlantic Forest spans found that 312 square kilometers of forest was cleared between 2008 and 2010, down from 1,029 square kilometers between 2005 and 2008. Deforestation was concentrated in the states of Minas Gerais, Bahia, Santa Catarina and Parana.
The new assessment finds only around eleven percent — 141,000 square kilometers — of the Atlantic Forest or Mata Atlntica remains intact. Logging and conversion for agriculture and cattle ranches have been the primary drivers of deforestation of the Mata Atlntica, which is a key source of water for some of Brazil's richest and most populous states.
"We depend on natural resources and environmental services of the Atlantic that are essential for the survival of the 112 million people in the field of biome," said Marcia Hirota of Fundação SOS Mata Atlntica in a statement.
In an effort to slow destruction of the Mata Atlntica, in November 2008 Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signed a decree to protect and restore the ecosystem to 20 percent of its original cover. INPE, Brazil's space agency, has since extended its advanced deforestation monitoring system to the region in an effort to measure emissions and catch deforesters.
But a new bill that aims to revise Brazil's Forest Cost could undermine efforts to protect the Mata Atlntica, according to Mario Mantovani of the Políticas Públicas da Fundação.
"The approval in the House of Representatives of the proposed changes to the Forest Code only worsen the already dramatic situation of the Atlantic," Mantovani said in a statement.