Published: Wednesday 31 December 1997

The World Wide Fund for Nature ( wwf) has said that Brazil has the highest rate of destruction of forests in the world. In its recent report, it estimates that around 3.6 million hectares of forests may have been lost. This, it says, is double of what has been lost in Indonesia - the country that second on the list of countries where destruction of forests is going on unabated. The report has condemned Brazil as an "environmental villain" in the eyes of international public opinion.

Some experts, however, feel otherwise. Eduardo Martins, president of the Brazilian Institute of Envi-ron-ment and Renewable Natural Resources, says that the wwf is speaking on absolute terms, while the calculations should be done in terms of percentage as Brazil has the largest resources of tropical forests in the world. He says that in reality if the rate of destruction was calculated in ratio to the total forest cover in the world, Brazil would occupy a modest 68th rank -- as has been confirmed by the latest report of the Food and Agriculture Organization.

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