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Illegal deforestation of the Amazon rainforest has dropped significantly

DANIEL ESTRIN, HOST:

Some good news out of Brazil today. The new government of leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva says illegal deforestation of the rainforest has dropped significantly. Nearly 34% fewer trees have been clearcut compared to last year's figures. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: This is an amazing reversal after years of accelerated deforestation, says Brazil's environmental minister, Marina Silva. She credits the new government's emergency enforcement efforts for the decrease.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARINA SILVA: (Speaking Portuguese).

KAHN: "No longer will there be complicity with criminality," she says as she lists the different operations the government has launched to crack down on miners and loggers illegally exploiting the rainforest. Deforestation has soared in the Amazon in recent years, hitting new highs under the government of previous President Jair Bolsonaro. The former far-right leader dismantled enforcement agencies and slashed environmental protection. President Lula came into power this January, pledging to end illegal deforestation by 2030.

(APPLAUSE)

KAHN: Speaking last month on World Environment Day, Lula unveiled a four-year plan to make good on that promise. He says he understands the challenges ahead, especially since, thanks to God, much of the Amazon is located in Brazil.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT LUIZ INACIO LULA DE SILVA: (Speaking Portuguese).

KAHN: "We are largely responsible for the environmental balance of the planet, so preventing deforestation in the Amazon will reduce global warming," he said. He also vowed to plant as many trees as are cut down and reach net zero deforestation. While clearcutting may be trending down, that doesn't mean deforestation is stopped - far from it. From January to June this year, more than 1,000 square miles of forest was razed. And as we enter the dry season in the Amazon, deforestation usually spikes, as well as destructive forest fires. Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Rio de Janeiro.

(SOUNDBITE OF MISTA SONG, "BLACKBERRY MOLASSES") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Carrie Kahn
Carrie Kahn is NPR's International Correspondent based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Kahn's reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning news programs including All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and on NPR.org.