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Nearly 93,000 Square Miles of Amazon Rainforest Destroyed in 10 Years

Brazil says rate of deforestation slowing in nearly all areas

- Beth Brogan, staff writer

Close to 93,000 square miles of Amazon rainforest—an area nearly as large as the United Kingdom—were destroyed by deforestation between 2000 and 2010, according to a report by environmental watchdog group Amazon Informational Network.

(Photo via indigenous.youth-leader.org) Deforestation in the Amazon rainforest releases large quantities of CO2, which form part of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.

Of the rainforest's 2.4 million square miles, 63 percent is in Brazil—where 80.4 percent of that deforestation occurred, said the Amazon Informational Network, composed of 11 environmental groups in 8 South American countries and French Guiana, all of which share the rainforest.

The bulk of the deforestation results from illegal logging, the construction of highways, mining, farming and ranching, the construction of hydroelectric dams and oil and gas drilling and exploration, the report states.

Beginning in 2008, the Brazilian government began using satellite imagery to track deforestation, which has destroyed about 20 percent of that country's rainforest, according to the Associated Press.

According to the report, deforestation in the Amazon rainforest is slowing in nearly all areas, and Brazil's Environmental Minister Izabella Teixeira said last week that satellite imagery shows 27 percent less of the country's forests were destroyed between August 2011 and July 2012.

But deforestation of the millions of miles of rainforest remain a significant concern due to the part it plays in climate change. Brazil remains one of the world's top greenhouse gas emitters, the BBC reports.