Brazil to Crack Down on Amazon Clearing

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Farmers working deforested land in the targeted area will also be forced to reregister holdings with government officials to prove their holdings were not illegally cleared, and there will be no new permits for logging.

On Wednesday, the environment ministry announced that up to 2,700 square miles (6,993 square kilometers) of rain forest was cleared from August through December.

That puts Brazil on course to lose 5,791 square miles (14,999 square kilometers) for the year ending in August—a 34 percent increase from the previous 12-month period.

Although preliminary calculations can only prove that 1,287 square miles (3,333 square kilometers) of rain forest were cleared from August through December, ministry executive secretary Joao Paulo Capobianco said officials are working under the assumption that the higher amount of jungle was cleared as they continue analyzing satellite data.

Well-Timed Crackdown

Environmentalists say an immediate crackdown could be well timed.

Paulo Adario, coordinator of Greenpeace's Amazon campaign, said it's important for the government to act now because slash-and-burn deforestation typically ramps up this time of year, the start of the rainy season.

Jungle is typically cleared in the Amazon to provide pasture for cattle, and soy farmers move in later and cultivate their crops.

Brazil also has a booming beef export industry, and cattle ranchers have been expanding operations in the Amazon.

Associated Press Writer Alan Clendenning contributed to this report from Sao Paulo.

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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