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Bird’s eye view for deforestation
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Government expands program for aerial monitoring its biomes.

Brazil´s government on April 16 launched a new program to use satellite imagery to monitor deforestation.

Environment Minister Carlos Minc said the images will also be used to calculate the volume of greenhouse gases that are escaping because of logging.

While Brazilian officials have monitored the Amazon rain forest biome this way since 2002, the expansion will include its other biomes, mainly forest and grassland areas, called the Caatinga, Cerrado, Mata Atlantica, Pampa and the Pantanal.

Brazil´s most destroyed biome is called the Mata Atlantica, southern coastal forest that in the last six years has dropped from 1 million square kilometers (400,000 square miles) to 285,000 square kilometers (110,000 square miles) of forested areas. Currently, only 10 percent of the native forest remains.

The second-worst affected biome is the Pampa, bordering Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, which has lost half of its original forested area of 178,000 square kilometers (70,000 square miles), according to the Environment Ministry in the same period.

Cerrado is the second most important biome in the country, after the Amazon. This sprawling tropical grassland in central Brazil comprises more than a fifth of the country´s land mass, with an area of nearly 2 million square kilometers. But since 2002, it has lost nearly 40 percent of its original area because of advancing agriculture, particularly soy, sugar cane and livestock pasture.

In comments to Agência Brasil, Donald Sawyer, a professor at the Brasilia University Sustainable Development Center, said the satellite images will help determine “more precisely” what is happening to these areas.

He called it “an important step in the country´s environmental policy, fundamental to understand its ecosystems,” a key issue because of the inter-dependence to one another.

Cerrado is especially important because it borders Amazonia, Caatinga, Mata Atlantica and Pantanal, and is the country´s main source of water, where the Parana, San Francisco and Amazon tributaries originate, he said.
—Latinamerica Press.

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Latinamerica Press / Noticias Aliadas
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