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The rate of destruction of Brazil’s forests has increased dramatically in the last decade, according to research by US and Brazilian scientists.

Their findings contradict the position of the Brazilian government, which claims that threats to Amazonian forests have decreased because of improved environmental laws and public attitudes.

The group of researchers, led by William Laurance of the Panama-based Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, analysed satellite data from Brazil’s National Space Agency, and found that almost 2 million hectares of forests was destroyed every year from 1995 to 2000.

“That’s equivalent to seven football fields a minutes,” says Laurance. “It’s comparable to the bad old days in the 1970s and 1980s, when forest loss in the Amazon was catastrophic.”

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