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Last Updated: Saturday November 29 2008 12:21 GMT

Rainforest destruction speeds up

The Amazon rainforest

The destruction of the Amazon rainforest has speeded up for the first time in four years, say experts.

The people who monitor forest clearance say more than 4,500 square miles of Brazil's tropical woodland were chopped down from August 2007 to July 2008.

That's an area more than half the size of Wales and nearly four per cent bigger than in the previous 12 months.

But experts say it could have been worse if Brazil's government hadn't taken action against illegal logging.

Rainforest quiz
Baby giant anteater lives in the Brazilian rainforest
Four years ago, a whopping 10,500 square miles of rainforest were being destroyed in Brazil every year - more than double the current rate.

It's thought the latest increase has been caused by farmers clearing parts of the forests to get more land, as the demand for agricultural products grows.

Now the Brazilian Government says it has introduced more ways to tackle the problem, including a system of fines.

Clean the air

The Amazon rainforest is the biggest area of tropical woodland on the planet and stretches over nine countries, but most of it - up to two million square miles - is in Brazil.

The lush forest is known as "the lungs of the world" because the trees breathe in gases like carbon dioxide - which are harmful to us - and breathe out oxygen, cleaning the air for us.