What's the Latest Development?

The Brazilian government reports that, thanks to government action, the rate of deforestation in the Amazon rain forests is the lowest it's been since monitoring began 24 years ago. The 27-percent drop represents the difference between this year (up to July) and the previous 12 months. Overall, rates have been declining since 2004, and two states which had lost much of its forest experienced the largest drops: 31 and 44 percent.

What's the Big Idea?

Unfortunately, according to environment minister Izabella Teixeira, "[it's] the only good piece of environmental news." The bad news is that in that same year 4,600 square kilometers (just under 1,800 square miles) was still lost. Some Brazilian states saw an increase in deforestation, possibly due to less stringent enforcement of policies. Also, the large drop applies to a period prior to a recent change in the forest protection code, which environmentalists say could reverse the progress. The government disputes this, saying that the country is on target to meet its goal of reducing deforestation to 3,925 square kilometers (just over 1,500 square miles) per year by 2020. Large-scale deforestation continues to make Brazil one of the world's top contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.

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