Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cattle Pastures in Deforested Amazon Now the Size of Iceland

The largest rainforest in the world is being chopped down almost entirely for a single purpose: beef. That's right, one of the biggest, most beautifully diverse ecosystems on the planet is being traded in—for hamburgers. According to a report from Mongabay, a full 80 percent of the land cleared by Amazon deforestation from 1996-2006 has been used to create cattle pastures.

The rainforest has been cleared at an astonishing rate over the last 12 years—and the cattle craze in the Amazon is only going to get worse.

Deforesting the Amazon in the Name of Beef
Since 1996, 10 million hectares have been deforested in the Brazilian Amazon just for cattle ranching—an area of land about the size of Iceland. And evidently, all that clearing has only whetted the Brazilian government's appetite for beef. From Mongabay:

Now the 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 for producers. Most of this expansion is expected to occur in the Amazon were land is cheap and available — 70 percent of the country's herd expansion between 2002 and 2006 occurred in the region.

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