News24

Brazil expands conservation areas

2012-06-06 21:38

Brasilia - Brazil announced on Tuesday it planned to protect an additional 10 000km² of land and pledged not to let economic woes stop it from implementing other measures to protect the environment.

According to the Environment Ministry, the country's total surface area under preservation - including reservations for indigenous people - would increase to 770 000km² under decrees signed by President Dilma Rousseff just days before the start of Rio+20, a United Nations summit on sustainable development in Rio de Janeiro.

"Brazil accounts for 75% of all protected environmental zones created in the world since 2003," Rousseff said.

The head of state, who recently opposed a partial veto of a controversial law reducing the protection of the Amazon rainforest, also announced that 6 418km² of land was deforested in 2011, down from a peak of 27 000km² in 2004.

"More than 80% of the Amazon's original vegetation remains intact and between 2004 and 2011 the rate of deforestation dropped by 78%," Rousseff noted.

Speaking on World Environment Day, she also stressed that economic problems should not serve as a pretext to abandon efforts to safeguard the planet.

"The crisis can't be an argument to suspend measures to protect the environment, much as it can't be an argument to suspend policies of social inclusion," Rousseff said.

Brazil admitted last month it was unlikely to meet a 2012 growth forecast of 4.5% over concerns in the eurozone, and the government has announced a fresh stimulus package in a bid to reverse the recent slowdown.

More than 100 heads of state and tens of thousands of participants from governments, the private sector and NGOs will converge on Rio de Janeiro 20-22 June for the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.