ALERT UPDATE

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FOREST CONSERVATION NEWS TODAY

Amazonian Deforestation Accelerating

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TAKE ACTION – Just Updated!

Amazon Rainforest Threatened by Massive Road & Infrastructure

Development - http://forests.org/emailaction/brazil.htm

 

January 17, 2002

OVERVIEW & COMMENTARY by Forests.org

An independent scientific investigation recently published in the

scientific journal “Environmental Conservation” indicates that the

rate of Amazonian deforestation has increased sharply since 1995,

returning to the catastrophic levels of the 1970s and 1980s.  “Forest

destruction from 1995 to 2000 averaged almost two million hectares a

year... ... equivalent to seven football field(s) a minute,” said

team leader William Laurance. 

 

The research team’s findings are important because the Brazilian

government plans to invest over $40 billion in new highways,

railroads, hydroelectric reservoirs, power lines, and gas lines in

the Amazon over the next few years.  About 5000 miles of highways

will be paved. The government claims that these projects will have

only limited effects on the Amazon.  But the researchers assert these

giant transportation and energy projects will have a tremendous

impact on these important rainforests; initiating large-scale forest

invasions by loggers, hunters, and slash-and-burn farmers. 

 

Forests.org first brought these planned new and massive Amazonian

infrastructure projects to the attention of the international

community this past July.  We have just updated the alert that you

can use to protest this measures, which can be found at:

http://forests.org/emailaction/brazil.htm .

 

This new scientific study clearly indicates that the threats to

Amazonian forests are growing.  “The scariest thing is that many of

the highways and infrastructure projects will penetrate right into

the pristine heart of the Amazon,” says Laurance. “That could

increase forest loss and fragmentation on an unprecedented scale.” 

The team’s findings are described in a paper that just appeared in

the journal Environmental Conservation (William F. Laurance, Ana K.

M. Albernaz, and Carlos Da Costa. 2001. Is deforestation accelerating

in the Brazilian Amazon? Environmental Conservation 28:305-311).

 

The future of the grandest forest ecosystem is seriously in doubt.

g.b.

 

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RELAYED TEXT STARTS HERE:

 

Title:  Smithsonian Researchers Show Amazonian Deforestation

  Accelerating 

Source:  Smithsonian Institution (http://www.si.edu/) via

ScienceDaily Magazine, Copyright 2002

Date:  January 15, 2002  

 

A research team of U.S. and Brazilian scientists has provided

compelling evidence that rates of forest destruction in the Brazilian

Amazon have accelerated over the last decade.

 

The team, led by William Laurance of the Smithsonian Tropical

Research Institute, analyzed deforestation estimates produced by

Brazil’s National Space Agency that were based on detailed satellite

images of the Amazon since 1978.

 

Contrary to the claims of the Brazilian government that threats to

Amazonian forests have fallen in recent years because of improved

environmental laws and public attitudes, the Smithsonian team asserts

that rates of deforestation have risen sharply since 1995.

 

“Forest destruction from 1995 to 2000 averaged almost two million

hectares a year,” said Laurance. “That’s equivalent to seven football

field a minute, and it’s comparable to the bad old days in the 1970s

and 1980s, when forest loss in the Amazon was catastrophic.”

 

The research team’s findings are important because the Brazilian

government plans to invest over $40 billion in new highways,

railroads, hydroelectric reservoirs, power lines, and gas lines in

the Amazon over the next few years. About 5000 miles of highways will

be paved. The government claims that these projects will have only

limited effects on the Amazon.

 

But the research team disputes these assertions. “There’s no way you

can criss-cross the basin with all these giant transportation and

energy projects and not have a tremendous impact on the Amazon,” says

Laurance.

     

“When you build a new road in the frontier, you almost always

initiate large-scale forest invasions by loggers, hunters, and slash-

and-burn farmers.”

 

Although new environmental laws in Brazil are designed to slow forest

loss, the research team claims that most laws are rarely enforced.

That, in concert with a rapidly growing population and dramatically

expanding logging and mining industries, means that threats to

Amazonian forests are growing.

 

“The scariest thing is that many of the highways and infrastructure

projects will penetrate right into the pristine heart of the Amazon,”

says Laurance. “That could increase forest loss and fragmentation on

an unprecedented scale.”

 

The team’s findings are described in a paper that just appeared in

the journal Environmental Conservation (William F. Laurance, Ana K.

M. Albernaz, and Carlos Da Costa. 2001. Is deforestation accelerating

in the Brazilian Amazon? Environmental Conservation 28:305-311).

 

###RELAYED TEXT ENDS### 

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