Rio De Janeiro: The rate of deforestation of Brazil`s Atlantic Forest along much of the country`s eastern coast fell by some 55 per cent between 2008 and 2010, according to a study released.
"The reduction can be explained by more stringent laws and better control" by environmental protection authorities, said Marcia Hirota of the SOS Mata Atlantica foundation, which carried out the study with the mapping surveys of Brazil`s National Institute for Space Research (INPE).
Between 2008 and 2010, the forest, which is the country`smost devastated ecosystem -- second only in the world to the forests of Madagascar -- lost 32,000 hectares.
By comparison, deforestation was proceeding at a rate of 34,000 hectares a year in 2000, the group said.
When European colonists arrived in the 1500s, the forest extended along Brazil`s entire coastline. But it has lost almost 93 per cent of its original size, and its fragmented
remains now cover some 28,600 sq km.
"At this rate, the forest will be gone by 2050," warned the foundation.
One state, Minas Gerais in the southeast, has been responsible for almost 40 per cent of the deforestation, with trees felled to produce charcoal and to be used as fuel for
iron and raw steel production.