BRASILIA, Dec. 5 (Xinhuanet) -- Brazilian Environment Minister Marina Silva told reporters on Monday that better police enforcement and tough regulation have slowed the pace of rain forest shrink by 31 percent in 2005.
Brazil's rain forest was reduced in size by 18,900 square km between July 2004 and August 2005, an area bigger than half of Belgium and a substantial reduction from the 27,200 square km lost during the same period a year earlier.
The effort by a group of government agencies has yielded fruits, Silva said, adding that the largest decline in deforestation was along the edge of the highway running from the midwestern city of Cuiaba to the Amazon River port in Santarem.
However, environmentalists still believe that the efforts to save the forest from further shrinking are far from enough.
"The loss of 18,900 square kilometers is still incredibly high and unacceptable," said Paulo Adario, coordinator of Greenpeace's Amazon program.
Farmers burned down forest for more fields to counter the impact of low soy prices, he added.
Scientists say deforestation reduces the area's rich biodiversity and contributes to global warming. Burning in the Brazilian Amazon releases about 370 million tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every year, about 5.4 percent of the world's total.
Brazil's rain forest area equals to that of western Europe and covers 60 percent of the country's territory. Enditem