The National Institute of Space Research found that the Amazon lost 4,656 square kilometers (1,797 square miles) of rain forest over a period running from August 2011 to July 2012, 27 percent less than the previous year.
“It is the lowest deforestation rate since Brazil began its monitoring” in 1988, said Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira.
“I believe that it is the only good piece of environmental news,” she told a press conference called to unveil a new electronic system to slap fines on those found guilty of deforesting the Amazon.
A year ago, INPE reported that the Amazon lost 6,238 square kilometers (2,408 square miles) of rainforest between August 2010 and July 2011, 11 percent less than the previous year.
Declines in the extent of deforestation have been registered in each of the past four years.