New Amazon deforestation figures released by the Brazilian Government yesterday evening (18th May 2005) showed that 26,130 square kilometres of rainforest were wrecked between August 2003 and August 2004, an area larger than Wales. More than 70% of the loss occurred between May and July 2004, after the adoption of Brazilian President Lula's Action Plan to Curb Deforestation.

Paulo Adario of Greenpeace Amazon said: "Agribusiness and illegal logging are key culprits of deforestation. President Lula's government is facing a fundamental contradiction: to fight Amazon deforestation or to promote the expansion of agribusiness to pay the Brazilian external debt. To make a real difference on the ground, the Government needs to restrict soya plantations to areas already deforested, combat illegal logging, and effectively implement their own anti-deforestation plan.

"Lula's administration has clearly failed to protect the Amazon. Although there have been positive measures taken by the Government, such as the creation of protected areas and the demarcation of indigenous land, the fact that more than 23,000 square kilometres has been deforested every year for the last three years is totally unacceptable."