Amazon deforestation ‘drops sharply’

Deforestation of the Amazon rain forest last year may have fallen to its lowest rate in nearly two decade, the Guardian reported the Brazilian government as claiming on Friday.

"The numbers show that we are starting to take account of environmental governance in one of the world’s most important eco-systems," the report quoted the country’s environment minister, Marina da Silva, as saying.

Da Silva attributed the figures to the government’s anti-deforestation plan, which was launched in 2004.

More controls on illegal logging, improved certification of land ownership, and economic development projects that preserve the forest were among factors driving down deforestation levels, Reuters reported the government as saying.

But environment groups warned it may owe more to a drop in soya bean prices than to government action.

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