Brazil has reduced destruction of its Amazon rainforest to the lowest rate since satellite observations began in 1988, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced today in Brasilia. The achievement helps protect the global climate as deforestation causes greenhouse gases to increase in the atmosphere.
Brazil's National Institute for Space Research, INPE, said in its annual report that deforestation reached a record low of 2,490 square miles (6,450 square kilometers) between August 2009 and July 2010.
Last year, Brazil slowed the rate of Amazon deforestation by 45.7 percent from August 2008 to July 2009.
In 2009, Brazil passed into law a commitment to cut its projected greenhouse gas emissions between 36.1 and 38.9 percent by 2020.
Deforestation reduction is a critical part of Brazil's strategy to reduce national emissions; official calculations estimate that meeting deforestation reduction targets could reduce Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions by up to 24.7 percent.
In October 2010, President Lula announced that Brazil's 80 percent Amazon deforestation reduction target would be met by 2016, four years earlier than promised.
Satellite images analyzed by INPE's near-real time deforestation detection system have enabled the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, with support from the Federal Police, to set up precise and effective enforcement operations to halt illegal deforestation as it happens.
During today's event in Brasilia, President Lula signed a decree establishing the Amazon Ecological-Economic Macrozoning initiative, a set of strategies to guide and stimulate sustainable development in the Amazon region.
The document divides the Legal Amazon region into 10 zones and specifies the nature of economic activity that can be carried out in each of them, in accordance with sustainability criteria.
Deforestation will be avoided by halting the expansion of agriculture and cattle ranching into areas of native vegetation, and fostering the use and recovery of degraded lands for agribusiness.
The decree establishes that the National Monetary Committee shall define new rules restricting finance for rural and agro-industrial activities in the Amazon, according to the criteria included in the Macrozoning initiative. Fiscal and economic incentives will encourage the expansion of sustainable activities in the region.
Within hours, the Bank of Brazil announced that it will veto agricultural credit for soy farmers who want to plant in newly cleared areas of the forest.