Back to work after a couple of weeks holiday in Chile and my return was made more welcome thanks to today’s good news for the Amazon and for Brazil’s environmentalists.

Data released today shows deforestation in the Amazon region hit a record low for the second consecutive year. Deforestation fell 14 percent in the 12 months to July, according to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE).

An estimated 6,450 square kilometers of forests were cut down, the lowest yearly rate since annual monitoring began in 1988.

Annual Deforestation Rates in the Amazon

Year Rate (km2)
2000 18,226
2001 18,165
2002 21,523
2003 25,396
2004 27,772
2005 19,014
2006 14,196
2007 11,633
2008 12,911
2009 7,464
2010 6,450

Source: National Institute for Space Research (INPE)

It’s good news for all and bolsters Brazil position exactly as the world is negotiating at the 16th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP16) in Cancun, Mexico.

The government said of today’s figures:

“The successive drops in Amazon deforestation rates are a result of the Plan for Amazon Deforestation Prevention and Control (PPCDAM), an integrated set of integrated government policies that combine enhanced satellite monitoring and enforcement operations with land tenure regularization, alongside initiatives to encourage sustainable activities in the region. With the support of 13 government agencies, PPCDAM was instrumental in helping to reduce deforestation in the Amazon by 76.8 percent from 2004 to 2010.”

“In 2009, Brazil voluntarily passed into law a commitment to cut its projected greenhouse gas emissions between 36.1 and 38.9 percent by 2020. Deforestation reduction is a critical part of Brazil’s strategy to reduce national emissions; official calculations estimate that meeting deforestation reduction targets could reduce Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions by up to 24.7 percent. In October 2010, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva announced that Brazil’s 80 percent Amazon deforestation reduction target would be met by 2016, four years earlier than planned.”