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The construction site of an illegal sawmill is seen from a police helicopter in Nova Esperanca do Piria

The construction site of an illegal sawmill is seen from a police helicopter during a sting operation against sawmills and loggers who trade in illegally-extracted wood from the Alto Guama River indigenous reserve in Nova Esperanca do Piria, Para state in this September 29, 2013 file photo To match Special Report BRAZIL-DEFOREST/ REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes/Files (BRAZIL - Tags: ENVIRONMENT CRIME LAW POLITICS BUSINESS CONSTRUCTION)

Rainforest raiders foil the guardians of the Amazon

Yahoo News

In late September, Reuters accompanied agents from the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, or Ibama, for the start of a month-long sting against people felling the rainforest. Charged with enforcing the country's environmental laws, Ibama agents see firsthand the destruction. Many who live here consider the cutting a local right. Environmentalists and scientists, because the rainforest acts as a greenhouse-gas filter, say the activity cripples the fight against climate change.

During the operation, Ibama shut eight sawmills and leveled another nine, demolishing unlicensed facilities whose operators had skipped town - a common tactic when Ibama is nearby. The agents levied more than $1.7 million in fines, seized machinery and confiscated roughly $2 million worth of lumber. Most of that wood came from a nearby Indian reserve, a swath of virgin forest that, like much of Brazil's protected woodland, is increasingly besieged. (Reuters)

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