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September 26, 2019

Deforestation Declined in Mato Grosso as Grain Prod. Increased

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

There has been a lot of news over the last several months concerning fires in the Amazon Region. The majority of fires in the Amazon Region of Brazil were the result of ranchers burning off their dry pastures in preparation for the upcoming rainy season. The majority of the fires in the forested areas of Brazil were illegally set by subsistent farmers clearing patches of land to grow crops for their families.

Brazil has some of the most stringent environmental regulations in the world and in Brazil, much of the land that is required to be preserved in its native vegetation is on private property. The Forestry Code of Brazil requires landowners to preserve a portion of their land in its native vegetation. The type of vegetation determines how much must be preserved ranging from 20% to 80%.

The Brazilian Agricultural Research Service, Embrapa, recently analyzed the amount of preserved land in the state of Mato Grosso, which is Brazil's largest producer of soybeans, corn, cotton, and cattle. In Mato Grosso, there are 68.9 million hectares of land in private hands which equates to 76% of the state.

There are approximately 35.4 million hectares of preserved land on private property in the state, which is about 39% of the entire state. Indigenous lands and national reserves account for an additional 17 million hectares of land in the state. As a result, Mato Grosso is the Brazilian state with the largest amount of preserved land in private hands.

Over the past two decades, the amount of deforestation in Mato Grosso and nationwide in Brazil has been on the decline. In Mato Grosso, there were 11,800 square kilometers deforested in 2004 and that declined to 1,400 square kilometers in 2018. Nationwide in Brazil, there were 27,000 square kilometers deforested in 2004 and that declined to 7,500 square kilometers in 2018.

During the same period the amount of agricultural production in the state increased significantly. In 2004, there were 7.6 million hectares of grain production in Mato Grosso and there were 1.1 million hectares of deforestation. In 2018, the harvested acreage in the state increased 98% to 15.1 million hectares and deforestation decreased 87% to 149,000 hectares.

According to the State Secretary of Economic Development, Mato Grosso is an example of sustainable agricultural production that should be a model for Brazil and the world.