BRASILIA - Brazil will combat rising deforestation in the
Authorities will monitor the areas in an attempt to prevent anyone from trying to plant crops or raise cattle there, Environment Minister Marina Silva said.
The new measures were announced after President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called an emergency meeting of Cabinet ministers because new data showed an apparent reversal of a three-year slowdown in the Amazon deforestation rate.
The clearing of Brazil's Amazon rain forest jumped in the final months of 2007, spurred by high prices for corn, soy, and cattle.
Agriculture Minister Reinhold Stephanes said Latin America's largest nation has plenty of land available for farming and cattle that has already been deforested. Environmentalists fear sugarcane, used here to produce ethanol, could spread through the rain forest, but most ethanol operations are in southern Brazil, far from the Amazon.
"It's not necessary to cut a single tree to produce soy or raise cattle," Stephanes said. "There's plenty of land outside of the Amazon to increase the production of soy and beef."
The government says its new push to stop deforestation is different than previous efforts because farmers will be targeted as well as loggers.
The government will focus on 36 areas that registered the highest rates of deforestation, environmental officials said. Officials will try to fine people or businesses who buy anything produced on illegally deforested land, the environment minister said.
The plan means a 25 percent increase in police assigned to the region, though Justice Minister Tarso Genro did not say how many officers will take part.