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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 February 2008, 11:31 GMT
Brazil raids Amazon timber mills
Burned area of forest in Para  in file photo from 2006
Para is one of the Amazon states worst hit by deforestation
Brazilian police have mounted a major operation in the Amazon, seizing what they describe as one of the biggest ever loads of illegally logged timber.

Some 140 officers raided eight illegal sawmills in the state of Para, confiscating 10,000 cubic metres (353,000 cubic feet) of lumber.

The operation marks the start of new government efforts to tackle illegal logging and slow Amazon deforestation.

Figures last month showed the rate of clearances had unexpectedly soared.

"It's one of the biggest operations ever against sawmills," said Ivanette Motta from the government environmental protection agency, Ibama.

Police began moving in on the sawmills in the town of Tailandia on Monday.

The town, which is home to dozens of sawmills, is in the south of Para state, one of the worst-hit areas by Amazon deforestation at the hands of loggers.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on 23 January 2008
President Lula had earlier hailed a slowing of deforestation

Last month the Brazilian government announced new measures to stop the destruction of the rainforest.

These include deploying police and environmental agents in areas where illegal clearing jumped most dramatically last year.

Figures showed that the last five months of 2007, 3,235 sq km (1,250 sq miles) of rainforest were cleared.

The state of Mato Grosso was the worst affected, accounting for more than half the total area of forest stripped.

As well as Para, Rondonia state also saw big losses.

The report was an embarrassment for Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

He had said that government's efforts to control illegal logging and introduce better certification of land ownership had helped reduce forest clearance significantly.

Map of worst affected areas



SEE ALSO
Brazil vows to stem Amazon loss
24 Jan 08 |  Americas
Brazil Amazon deforestation soars
24 Jan 08 |  Americas
Pressures build on Amazon jungle
14 Jan 08 |  Americas
Anatomy of a rainforest
10 Dec 07 |  Science/Nature
Biofuels bonanza facing 'crash'
15 Nov 07 |  Science/Nature
Brazil gives Amazon dams go-ahead
10 Jul 07 |  Americas

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