Brazil's government says deforestation in the Amazon rainforest has dropped to its lowest rate in 24 years.

Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira says satellite imagery shows that 1,798 square miles (4,656 square kilometers) of the Amazon were deforested between August 2011 and July 2012. That's 27 percent less than the 2,478 square miles (6,418 square kilometers) deforested a year earlier. The margin of error is 10 percentage points.

The National Institute for Space Research says in a statement that the deforestation level is the lowest since it started measuring the destruction of the rainforest in 1988.

Officials say better enforcement of environmental laws is behind the drop in deforestation levels.