Deforestation up 9 percent in Brazil's Atlantic forest

Less known than the Amazon, the Atlantic Rainforest stretched the length of Brazil's eastern seaboard and is home to hundreds of species, including iconic birds and primates.

Deforestation up 9 percent in Brazil's Atlantic forest

World Bulletin/News Desk

Brazil's Atlantic rainforest has suffered its worst level of deforestation since 2008, a report by a nongovernmental organization published Tuesday revealed.

Between July 2012 and June 2013, deforestation affected nearly 24,000 hectares (92 square miles) of native Atlantic forest and so-called “restinga” coastal forest, an increase of around 9 percent on the 22,000 hectares lost in the 2011 to 2012 period. 

It is the third time in a row that deforestation has increased in Brazil's most threatened type of native habitat. The state of Minas Gerais is the worst offender.

“Development cannot take place to the detriment of Brazil's natural forest heritage,” said Márcia Hirota, executive director of the SOS Mata Atlântica Foundation which compiled the data along with the National Institute for Spatial Research.

According to SOS Mata Atlântica, the forests have mostly been cut down for wood used in the charcoal industry, but areas have also been cleared for soybean plantations.

The 2012-2013 levels of deforestation are less than those seen in between 2005 and 2008, when an average of 34,300 hectares was destroyed every year, but have caused alarmed among conservationists, who say some species are being driven to extinction.

Lack of local involvement

Only fragments of the forest, which stretches from Northern Argentina and Uruguay in the south to the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Norte in the north, are now left. It is thought around 85 percent of the forest has been destroyed over time.

“The Atlantic Rainforest is one of the most biodiverse areas in the world, and certainly one of the most threatened. Stopping this deforestation has to be a government priority,” Luciano Breves, an environmental campaigner and consultant in Morretes, Paraná state, told the Anadolu Agency.

“There are lots of conservation projects ongoing in the areas, but they have failed to involve local people and educate them properly. Getting them involved is key to this area's survival,” Breves concluded.

The remaining highly-fragmented stretches of forest are home to thousands of species of endemic and endangered wildlife, including many birds and primates, and new species are still being found.

Among the primates are the endemic golden and black-faced lion tamarins, woolly spider monkey, and maned three-toed sloth. The forest holds over 200 endemic species of birds, with many types of toucans, parrots and raptors, as well as brightly-colored tanagers and manakins.

Last Mod: 28 Mayıs 2014, 10:22
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