September 5, 2011
Majority Of Deforested Amazon Land Used As Cattle Pasture
More than three-fifths of the deforested areas in the Brazilian Amazon Rain forest are being used for grazing cattle, the government has discovered through a new satellite-based survey.
The study, which according to Rhett Butler of the website Mongabay.com was conducted by Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE) and Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), revealed that 62% of the 277,000 square miles worth of rain forest that had been cleared is being used as a cattle pasture.
On average, according to an AFP report Saturday, it was equivalent to approximately "one cow per hectare, roughly the size of a football field."
The French news agency also said that Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira told Brazilian media that it was "unacceptable" and "a waste" that "the forest is being replaced by something that does not generate income or growth."
"The analysis concluded that more than 21-percent of the deforested is in the process of regenerating forest, either from natural recovery or the establishment of plantations," Butler added.
Furthermore, 5% of the land was being used to grow crops, while 12% of the territory was being used for "other" means, including mining, settlements, urban areas, flood zones, and other development, the Mongabay.com reporter added.
"The findings seem to confirm that cattle ranching remains the predominant driver of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest," Butler said. "In a region where land prices are appreciating quickly, cattle ranching is used as a vehicle for land speculation, much of which is illegal. Forestland has little value--but cleared pastureland can be used to produce cattle or sold to large-scale farmers."
Brazil has jurisdiction over the majority of the Amazon, the AFP notes, and has committed to reducing deforestation at the world's largest rainforest by 80% over the rest of this decade.
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