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Saving the Amazon: Winning the war on deforestation

January 02, 2012

For years, the story told about the Amazon has been one of destruction - the world's largest rainforest, a region of amazing biodiversity, key to the fight against climate change, being remorselessly felled. But that is no longer the whole truth.

In the decade between 1996 and 2005, 19,500 sq km (7,530 sq miles) of jungle was lost on average every single year. The comparison is overused, but that really is an area about the size of Wales or New Jersey each year. It reached a peak in 2004 when more than 27,000 sq km was lost.

Then, in 2004 Brazil declared war - it said it would cut deforestation by 80% by 2020.

Seven years later and it has almost reached its goal. The latest figures, released just weeks ago, show that 2011 had the lowest rates of deforestation since records began three decades ago - just over 6,200 sq km was cut. That's 78% down on 2004, still a lot of trees - an area the about the size of Devon, or Delaware - but a huge improvement.

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