Amazon deforestation seen surging

Deforestation of the world's biggest rain forest has rapidly increased in recent months and is likely to rise in 2008 for the first time in four years, Reuters reported a Brazilian government scientist as saying on Wednesday.

Brazil says its measures to curb illegal logging and improve certification of land ownership are helping to protect the Amazon, but green groups warn that rising global commodity prices may lead to an increase in the clearing of land for farms.

"I think the last four months is a big concern for the government and now they are sending people to do more law enforcement," Carlos Nobre, a scientist with Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, which monitors the Amazon, was reported as saying.

High world oil prices, he said, were also likely to result in a surge in demand for Amazon land to produce alternative transport fuel from ethanol.

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