Readers of Jared Diamond’s “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed” know that deforestation comes right before people eating each other to survive, so it is some relief that Brazil is sending armed officers into the Amazon to stop illegal logging.

It’s a war, says the BBC, and the environmentalists are winning:

In the decade between 1996 and 2005, 19,500 sq km (7,530 sq miles) of jungle was lost on average every single year. The comparison is overused, but that really is an area about the size of Wales or New Jersey each year. It reached a peak in 2004 when more than 27,000 sq km was lost.

Then, in 2004 Brazil declared war – it said it would cut deforestation by 80% by 2020.

Seven years later and it has almost reached its goal. The latest figures, released just weeks ago, show that 2011 had the lowest rates of deforestation since records began three decades ago – just over 6,200 sq km was cut. That’s 78% down on 2004, still a lot of trees – an area the about the size of Devon, or Delaware – but a huge improvement.

No, you’re not reading this story wrong. This is actually good news about the environment. Of course the eco-troopers aren’t doing it alone. They have help from local ranchers, indigenous people, Greenpeace and others. — PZS

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