More of Amazon lost to cattle ranches

Almost 80% of land deforested in Brazil's Amazon rain forest from 1996 to 2006 is now used for cattle pasture, according to a report released by Greenpeace. The report, Amazon Cattle Footprint -- Mato Grosso: State of Destruction, confirms that cattle ranching is the primary driver of deforestation in the world's largest rain forest.


In the report — released at the World Social Forum in Belém, Brazil — the environmental organisation said Brazil is the world’s fourth-largest climate polluter. Deforestation and land-use change, it added, account for 75% of all Brazilian greenhouse-gas emissions. Of those emissions, 59% comes from loss of forest cover and from burning in the Amazon region.
The report blamed "more than 30 years of government policies" for the cattle ranching that has expanded continuously since the early 1970s. Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of beef. The Amazon area of the state of Mato Grasso is home to the largest bovine herd in the country and also has the largest average deforestation rates since 1988.

Over the past decade alone, Greenpeace said, more than 10 million hectares –- an area about the size of Iceland — was cleared for cattle ranching. The Brazilian government aims to double the country’s share of the beef-export market to 60% by 2018 through low-interest loans, infrastructure expansion and other incentives.

Most of this expansion is expected to occur in the Amazon, where land is cheap and available. Greenpeace wants to see deforestation ended by 2015.


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