Brazil Targets Amazon Loggers
Government cracks down as deforestation rises sharply
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 21, 2008 9:33 AM CDT
Charcoal kilns are seen in Tailandia, state of Para, Brazil, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2008.    (AP Photo/Renato Chalu)
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(Newser) – Brazil is launching a new crackdown against the loggers who are destroying the Amazon rainforest at alarming rates, the Washington Post reports. After several years of decline, deforestation is surging as cattle ranchers clear land and loggers cut down trees for charcoal to fuel steel mills abroad. But Brazil will have to find another way for the region's people to make a living; in some towns, 70% of citizens work in the logging industry.

Satellite images show that 2,700 acres disappeared in the final five months of last year, up 60% from the previous year. Remote areas are difficult to police, and officials have met stiff resistance from logging companies and locals as they try to seize illegally cut timber and shut down unlicensed operations. Authorities are looking into ways to establish sustainable logging practices, but to do that, a minister said, "we have to stop the illegal activities first."