Brazil Considers Moratorium on Amazon Logging
BRASILIA, Brazil The government could ban logging in Brazilian forests for up to a year to slow destruction of the Amazon rainforest, the country's environment minister said Friday.
Marina Silva said the government was considering a ban of between six months and a year to preserve the world's largest remaining tropical wilderness.
"What is being discussed in the government is what we call a 'braking system,'" Silva told the official government news agency Radiobras.
Silva said the moratorium would allow some exceptions in areas where companies used certified forestry management practices to log in a sustainable manner. Small-scale farmers would be allowed to cut down as much as three hectares (7.5 acres) for planting.
The proposal is being analyzed by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's office.
The environment minister is expected to make an official announcement next week, her office said.
Last year, the Amazon rainforest lost a near-record 26,130 square kilometers (10,000 square miles) of forest, nearly 6 percent more than the previous year.
Environmentalists said the moratorium must last a full year to be effective, because most logging occurs between May and July, during the dry season.
In 1999, the government suspended logging for three months after it discovered that loggers had cut down three times more rainforest than had been officially authorized. But the moratorium had little practical effect in slowing Amazon destruction.
Brazil's rainforest sprawls over 1.6 million square miles (4.1 million square kilometers), the size of western Europe. Experts say as much as 20 percent of the forest has been destroyed by development, logging and farming.
Source: Associated Press