In todays issue of Science (21 May 2004), a team of U.S. and Brazilian scientists show that the rate of forest destruction has accelerated significantly in Brazilian Amazonia since 1990. The team asserts, moreover, that Amazonian deforestation will likely continue to increase unless the Brazilian government alters its aggressive plans for highway and infrastructure expansion.
"The recent deforestation numbers are just plain scary," said William Laurance of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, the studys lead author. "During the last two years nearly 12 million acres of rainforest have been destroyed--thats equivalent to about 11 football fields a minute."
Deforestation has risen most sharply in the southern and eastern parts of the Amazon, where rainforests are more seasonal and thus more easily burned. "Since 2002, forest loss has shot up by nearly 50% in the states of Pará, Rondônia, Mato Grosso, and Acre," said co-author Ana Albernaz of the Goeldi Museum in Belém, Brazil. "Plant and wildlife species indigenous to these areas are being severely threatened."
Bill Laurance | EurekAlert!
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