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Amazon Deforestation Jumps Sixfold as Soy Output Expands

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon jumped almost sixfold in the March-April period, led by the destruction of trees in Mato Grosso, the country’s biggest soybean-producing state.

Deforestation in the world’s largest rain forest increased in March and April to 593 square kilometers (147,000 acres), about the size of Toronto, from 103.5 square kilometers in the same period last year, the National Institute for Space Research said in statement posted on its website today. The institute uses data from its Real Time Deforestation Detection System, known as Deter, according to the statement. In January and February, 19.2 square kilometers of forest were destroyed.

Latin America’s biggest economy will increase soy output by 7.2 percent this year to 73.7 million tons, the Agriculture Ministry said this month. Mato Grosso, which produced 27 percent of Brazil’s last soybean harvest, will boost production 8.8 percent to 20.4 million tons, according to ministry figures.

Erai Scheffer, president of Grupo Bom Futuro, Brazil’s largest soybean producer, said he is expecting a record crop this season as rains boost yields to the highest in three years.

Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva approved a decree in December for Brazil to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions by as much as 1.3 billion tons in 2020. The decree includes measures to reduce deforestation by 80 percent in the Amazon and the planting of 3 million hectares of trees, Brazil’s Secretariat for Social Communication said.

The decree carries out a pledge Brazil made at a climate change summit in Copenhagen in 2009 to voluntarily reduce emissions by 36 percent to 39 percent by 2020 compared with “business-as-usual" levels.

Tropical forests are disappearing at a rate of about 13 million hectares (32 million acres) each year, or an area the size of Greece, according to a UN Environment Program report published May 6.

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