Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon dropped nearly 46 percent from August 2008 to July 2009 - the biggest annual decline in two decades, the government said Thursday.
Analysis of satellite imagery by the National Institute for Space Research shows an estimated 7,008 square kilometers (2,705 square miles) of forest were cleared during the 12-month period, the lowest rate since the government started monitoring deforestation in 1988.
"The new deforestation data represents an extraordinary and significant reduction for Brazil," President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said in a statement.
The numbers have been falling since 2004, when they reached a peak of 27,000 square kilometers (10,425 square miles) cleared in one year, according to the space research institute.
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