By Sarah de Sainte Croix, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A government report released yesterday has disproved the commonly held belief that Amazonian deforestation is largely down to agriculture, principally the cultivation of soybeans and oil palms. The report, which was financed by The World Bank, shows that the biggest culprit is cattle ranches, responsible for a massive 62 percent of the 719,200 square kilometers (277 square miles) that have been deforested in the region, compared with just five percent attributed to agriculture.
Gilberto Câmara, director of the National Institute for Spatial Reseach (INPE), denies the argument touted by some Amazonian farmers that deforestation is necessary so that communities can practice agriculture in order to survive.
He pointed out, “Agriculture is not an important factor in deforestation, it’s responsible for only a marginal amount…. It’s not true to say that the forest restricts agriculture”.
The study also showed that 21 percent of the deforested land had already begun to revert to it’s natural state, showing signs of a regeneration of the native flora.
The report coincides with a recent surge in deforestation rates in the Amazon, which some argue has happened in response to the the government’s recent Forestry Bill proposal, which could relax the rules for landowners who have taken part in illegal deforestation.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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