March 19, 2012

Majority of Deforested Amazon Forest used for Cattle Ranching

According to studies conducted by the Brazilian Space Institute (Inep), 68% of the Lowland Amazon Forest in the state of Mato Grosso that had been deforested up until 2008 was now being used for pastures and cattle ranching. Of the total deforested pasture areas, 53% were considered productive pastures where grass species account for 90 to 100% of the vegetation, 9% were considered dirty pastures where there are still forest species growing, and 6% were pastures that were either abandoned or in the process of reverting back to the native vegetation. For Brazil as a whole, less than 5% of the Lowland Amazon Forest that had been deforested up until 2008 was currently being used for row crop production.

Sixteen percent of the deforested area in Mato Grosso was in row crop cultivation in 2008, but Inep is unable to determine if the area had been deforested for the purpose of cultivation or if it had previously been pastures that were converted to row crop production.

Most of the deforestation in the Amazon Region occurred before environmental regulations were recently strengthened. In the 1980's and 1990's environmental regulations were rarely enforced even though they have been on the books for decades. The recent improvements in satellite technology now allow the federal government to more accurately monitors what exactly is occurring in the Amazon Region.

Recent regulations have increased the fines associated with illegal clearing and any land owner caught clearing land illegally can be barred from selling any of his agricultural production or lumber in addition to being outlawed from receiving loans from the Bank of Brazil. As a result of the stricter enforcement of environmental regulations, the deforestation rate in Brazil is now the lowest since records have been kept.