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Rain Slows Amazon Forest Demolition

January 26, 1998

SAO JOSE DOS CAMPOS, Brazil (AP) _ Burning and logging are still devastating huge tracts of the Amazon forest, but the pace has slowed dramatically because of abnormally heavy rain, figures released today show.

The rate of destruction has slowed by more than half in the past two years, according to a five-month study by the National Space Research Institute that was based on satellite images of the forest.

An estimated 5,200 square miles of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest were burned or cut down in 1997, a drop from 7,200 square miles in 1996 and down from a record 11,600 square miles in 1995, the study said.

``These numbers are no reason to celebrate,″ Brazilian Environment Minister Gustavo Kraus said at the long-awaited presentation of the study.

Kraus noted that much of the slowdown was due to abnormally heavy rainfall in Amazonia _ a region of 2 million square miles, 1.6 million square miles of which are forest.

More than 200,000 square miles, or 12.5 percent, of the Amazonia forest disappeared between 1978 and 1996.

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