Amazon deforestation soars, Brazil blames its own land-reform agency
The 100 individuals or companies most responsible for Amazon deforestation since 2005 were listed Monday by Brazilian Environment Minister Carlos Minc, and Brazil’s own land-reform agency took the top spot. The Institute for Colonization and Agrarian Reform was said to be culpable for the deforestation of 850 square miles of Amazon rainforest in the last three years. Everyone on the list, most of whom are Brazilian farmers and ranchers, will face criminal charges, according to Minc. Satellite data show that Amazon deforestation is up sharply after a few years of decline: At least 300 square miles was destroyed in August 2008, compared to about 90 square miles in August 2007. Rising food prices have incentivized soy farmers and cattle ranchers to clear forested land, and with elections coming up, officials say mayors in the Amazon region are going easy on illegal loggers in hopes of gaining votes. It all makes for an uphill battle for Minc’s ambitious goal to end net Amazon deforestation entirely by 2015.