BRASILIA, Brazil, September 30, 2008 (ENS) – A Brazilian government agency that provides land to settlers is the largest illegal logger in the Amazon rainforest and could face criminal prosecution, Environment Minister Carlos Minc said Monday. Minc blamed Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform, or Incra, for occupying the top six places on a new government list of the 100 largest illegal loggers.
Today, he backed off a little, giving another government agency 20 days to analyze information presented by Incra contesting the legality of the deforestation.
Illegally cut logs await transport from a clearing in the Brazilian rainforest. (Photo by Andy Revkin)
“As some questions had been raised about what is legitimate, Ibama will go to evaluate point the point,” Minc said, handing responsibility for the inquiry to the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, or Ibama.
Minc clarified that Incra is the formal owner of the six parcels of land at issue, which in fact were deforested by the settlers. But legally, he said, the problem falls again on Incra because the Institute cannot pass ownership of land to the agriculturists until it has been settled for 10 years.
“They are small deforestations, of 20 or 30 hectares, per person. On the other hand, a small one deforests little but thousands deforest a great deal,” said Minc. “Therefore, we have that to improve, and as well we have to improve the incidents of deforestation on conservation units and on aboriginal lands.”
In total, 223,000 hectares of the rainforest were logged on those six properties
The Amazon rainforest is being chopped down more than three times as fast as last year, Brazilian officials said Monday, after three years of declines in the deforestation rate.