BALBOA, Panama, May 21 (UPI) -- U.S. and Brazilian scientists have found that the rate of forest destruction has accelerated significantly in Brazil's Amazonia region since 1990.
The team said Amazonian deforestation likely will continue to increase unless the Brazilian government alters its plans for highway and infrastructure expansion, BBC News Online reported Friday.
"The recent deforestation numbers are just plain scary," said William Laurance of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, the study's lead author. "During the last two years nearly 12 million acres of rainforest have been destroyed -- that's equivalent to about 11 football fields a minute."
Deforestation has risen most sharply in the southern and eastern parts of the Amazon, where rainforests are more seasonal and thus more easily burned. "Since 2002, forest loss has shot up by nearly 50 percent in the states of Pará, Rondônia, Mato Grosso, and Acre," said co-author Ana Albernaz of the Goeldi Museum in Belém, Brazil. "Plant and wildlife species indigenous to these areas are being severely threatened."