Rhett A. Butler @ mongabay.com reports that Brazil has confirmed a big jump in Amazon deforestation, increasing 27% from August 2010 to April 2011, by using preliminary satellite information.
INPE's rapid deforestation detection system (DETER) recorded 593 square kilometers of forest clearing during the past two months, an area of rainforest 10 times the size of Manhattan and a 473 percent increase over the 103.5 sq km chopped down from March-April 2010.
81 percent of the recent clearing occurred in Mato Grosso, the southernmost state in the Brazilian Amazon that has accounted for more than 35 percent of the region's deforestation since 1988. ...
Anticipating a weakening in the code that would grant amnesty for deforestation, farmers and ranchers have been clearing swathes of forest. Dry conditions, lingering from last year's worst-ever drought, have exacerbated the situation.
Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is typically driven by industrial agriculture and land speculation. More than 70 percent of deforested land ends up as cattle pasture.
High commodity prices typically create incentives for deforestation.