Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon Is Easing Up

TIME

Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest has fallen to its second-lowest level in 25 years, according to the country’s environment minister Izabella Teixeira.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Teixera said 4,848 square km of forest were cut down between Aug. 2013 and Jul. 2014, compared to 5,891 square km during the same period a year earlier, the Associated Press reports.

The drop is a surprise, since environmental groups have been warning of an increase following the adoption of a controversial 2012 bill that eases clearing restrictions for small landowners.

“The major message is OK, is good: Brazil has been advancing,” says Marco Lentini, coordinator of the Amazon program for the World Wide Fund for Nature’s Brazil branch, while cautioning: “It doesn’t mean that the deforestation issue is over.”

The Amazon rainforest, considered an essential natural defense against global warming, is gradually being razed to make way for cattle grazing…

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