By Ana Mano
SAO PAULO, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Brazil's leading meat export industry group and other agribusiness associations on Friday joined with nongovernment organizations (NGOs) to call for an end to deforestation on public lands, demanding government action as the Amazon rainforest burns.
Meat group Abiec and NGOs Imazon and IPAM are among the 11 Brazilian groups signing on to a campaign that also calls for protected conservation areas in the country to be maintained and the creation of a justice ministry task force to resolve conflicts over public land, representatives of the groups told reporters.
The highest number of forest fires since 2010 are tearing through the Amazon this year, data from the country's space research agency revealed last month, provoking a global outcry that more must be done to protect the world's largest tropical rainforest.
The protection of the Amazon, which absorbs vast amounts of greenhouse gas that causes global warming, is seen as vital to the fight against climate change. Roughly 60% of the Amazon lies in Brazil.
Marcello Brito, president of the Brazilian Agribusiness Association, said something must be done to avoid damage to the country's farming sector following the Amazon fires.
"I haven't seen any contracts being canceled in any sectors; exports continue. But the red light is flashing," Brito told reporters.
"If action isn't taken, if the discourse doesn't change, if the rhetoric doesn't change, then things can get worse."
The campaign also calls for another task force to examine forests on public land that have not been assigned any reserve or other status.
About 40% of deforestation in 2018 occurred on public lands, according to IPAM.
All forests should receive designations based on what they are best suited for, IPAM Executive Director Andre Guimaraes said. For example, if it contains sensitive species, a forest could be protected as a reserve or national park, he said.
Others could be designated as national forests or as concession areas for sustainable logging, Guimaraes said.
Roughly 650,000 square km (250,966 square miles) of forest in Brazil - an area nearly twice the size of Germany - have no designation, according to IPAM. (Reporting by Ana Mano Writing by Jake Spring Editing by Jonathan Oatis)
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