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Should the development of agriculture industries such as crop planting and cattle ranching in Brazil account for the deforestation in the Amazon rainforest?
The Amazon rainforest is defined as the lung of the earth, with about 60 percent of the Amazon basins within the borders of Brazil. Though covering only 4 percent of the earth’s surface, the Amazon contains a third of all-known terrestrial plants, animals, and insect species. The enormous Amazon River, plus all its tributaries, contains 20 percent of the world’s freshwater. The woodland additionally produces 50 percent of all of the rain falling within the Amazon region. From all these figures, we can easily tell the importance of the Amazon rainforest to the earth; however, over the past five decades, about 17% of the Amazon rainforest has been lost because of industrial events, large-scale agricultural production, cattle-ranching, etc. Deforestation in Brazil, which is mainly caused by unsustainable cattle ranching, fire emissions, and illegal logging, has resulted in the loss of biological diversity, global warming, and the improper use of ecological landscapes. In light of the severity of these problems, donating money to non-governmental organizations, reducing the use of beef and dairy products, and promoting tourist activities in the Amazon rainforest, are among the most effective coping measures proposed.
Among all the reasons causing deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, cattle ranching is the leading cause. Numerous areas of the forest have been felled in order to pasture the cattle. According to World Wildlife Fund organization, Brazil has 88% of the Amazon herds, followed by Peru and Bolivia. While grazing densities in Amazon are extensive, it enjoys low productivity in terms of livestock ranching, with much less than one animal per hectare of the pasture. Moreover, statistics have shown that Brazil has used up to 75 to 80 percent of the deforested areas for cattle ranching. Brazil was ranked first place in converting forests into agricultural land. A study released by News Berkeley Education once implied that in the past decade, Brazil has been the world’s biggest beef exporter, which has exported 15 percent more of the beef than the United States. In summary, it can be concluded that the rampant deforestation of the Amazon rainforest is mainly driven by the demand for meat globally.
Illegal logging makes the second biggest reason for deforestation in Brazil. Logging is connected with street creation and migrant movements. Areas which have been selectively logged are more likely to be settled and cleared via means of moving cultivators than the untouched rainforests due to street access. According to the Logging in Amazon, out of every 13 companies of logging, 12 of the companies have broken the relevant laws. Illegal logging is commonly seen in the Amazon rainforest. There are many of the impacts that illegal logging will bring. While sustainable logging may cause long-term benefits for mankind, logging is now no longer performed according to proper standards. This has in turn made wide-ranging impacts such as the fragmentation of species’ habitats and huge economic losses for the government. All in all, illegal logging is the second major cause of deforestation in the Amazon.
Deforestation is threatening humans as well as biological diversity. Since both cattle ranching and crop planting need a massive amount of land, the habitats of animals, plants, and insects are gradually lost in the process. The Sumatran Orangutan is a typical example, whose habitat is critically endangered due to deforestation. Based on what is mentioned on the website of the Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS), Orangutans spend their lives in the trees, and deforestation is the greatest threat to their survival, so protecting and restoring their habitats is truly crucial now. We are now literally working together with frontline workers to preserve the remaining forests in Sumatra, and to repair the broken ecosystems. According to the data collected by the Nation Geographic Organization, biodiversity has declined unexpectedly during the last 50 years, inflicting the extent of variability amongst dwelling organisms. Biodiversity performs a crucial function in underpinning human lifestyles through stabilizing the meal chains, maintaining the float of worldwide carbon cycling, and keeping the hemispheric hydrological systems. If the problem of biodiversity loss remains uncontrolled in the Amazon rainforest, threats, including but not limited to habitat loss, overexploitation of natural resources, pollution, invasive alien species, and climate change will follow.
The Amazon rainforest is known as the lung of the Earth; however, humans are now destroying the lung of the earth, causing devastating impacts on the plants, animals, people, and the climate. According to Panda Organization, by the year 2018, 17 percent of the Amazon rainforest had disappeared. Overall, deforestation has caused many problems that will affect us. In most cases, Amazon deforestation happens within the gathering places of indigenous tribes. Local tribes have a huge impact on the biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest because they live on the land. They worry that their lifestyles and traditions will disappear as their homeland is deforested which they depend on for their survival. Their ancestors have lived in the Amazon rainforest for a long time, but they are forced to relocate their homes outside of the Amazon rainforest, permanently altering their ways of living by adopting agriculture or cash employment. As is previously mentioned, the plants in Amazon take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen via photosynthesis. When trees are cut down and burned for cattle ranching or farming land, their stored carbon is released into the air as carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas in Earth’s atmosphere. According to World Wildlife Fund, in the future, global climate change and more deforestation will likely lead to increased temperatures. The largest threats to deforestation withinside the Amazon are because of land conservation for agricultural functions inclusive of soy and livestock ranching, which can be usually achieved illegally. Moreover, deforestation has a variety of bad consequences on the Amazon rainforest. The Amazon rainforest is a domestic land to many local tribes and presents all they need. They worry that their lifestyles and traditions can also disappear. Their ancestors have lived withinside the Amazon rainforest for a totally long time.
Moreover, large amounts of deforestation will result in global warming. In the long run, worldwide environmental changes and more deforestation will probably prompt expanded temperatures and change precipitation designs in the Amazon. According to World Wildlife Found, throughout time, the temperature will be increasing as the areas of the Amazon rainforest decrease. And this will in turn influence the local woodlands, water accessibility, biodiversity, farming, and human wellbeing, and as the deforested areas increase, the climate temperature will keep growing in the Amazon rainforest, which will then affect the whole world.
An effective solution to deforestation is cooperating with environmental NGOs like Rainforest Action Network and Amazon Watch. Aiming to advocate for workable strategies via international cooperation, the Rainforest Action Network was founded in 1996 and has a history of 25 years. And the Amazon Watch companion with indigenous and environmental companies in campaigns for human rights, company accountability, and the renovation of Amazon’s ecological systems. Moreover, this organization took actions such as telling the UBS and the Natixis to stop using Amazon as a profit-making tool. In addition, since in the business world, the cleared land in Amazon is more valuable than forested land, there is a big economic incentive driving people to purchase large amounts of forestland and convert them into cleared land. The existence of this opportunistic practice makes it very necessary to introduce strong laws and policy solutions to curb the illegal land exploitation.
Besides introducing laws and changing policies, we can protect the Amazon by eating less meat. The forestland is cleared for cattle to sell as meat, and to grow plants to feed pigs, chickens, and cows. The livestock expansion happens at a fast pace, which also accounts for the numerous fire emissions plaguing different parts of the Amazon rainforest. In the past ten years, the Amazon rainforest has mainly been deforested with the expansion of agricultural activities due to the growing global demands for beef, with China and the first-world countries as the main importers. Animal production occupies 14.5% of the world’s total greenhouse emissions. According to Greenify me, the fires burning in the Amazon this week were literally startling because of animal agriculture – people wanted to clear the land for cattle grazing. To reverse the trend of the world’s overdependency on Brazil for beef supply, the governments of these main importers should start diversifying their sources of beef supply and reduce importing beef from Brazil. This joint effort across countries will be an effective endeavor to stop and decrease deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.
Another possible solution is to focus on the development of ecotourism resources in the Amazon rainforest. There are many people in the world, including myself among who uphold a yearning for Amazon’s sustainable development, which can be utilized as a powerful economic incentive to drive the local economy. According to Responsible Travel, responsible tourism has the potential to generate substantial environmental and economic benefits: it can generate well-paid, stable jobs, often providing support and an amplified voice for marginalized communities, while preserving wildlife and its habitats. From this quotation, we can assume that with appropriate strategies and measures, ecotourism in the Amazon rainforest can take place in natural areas that promote the conservation of the environment and thus can improve the wellbeing of local people. By promoting ecotourism, it will greatly benefit the overall economy of Brazil and keep the forest safe from deforestation.
However, on the other hand, without cattle ranching, Brazil will have to lose its major economic GDP, and without deforestation, Brazil will have to lose many of its economic origins, such as beef reproduction and travel industries. In this way, this country will potentially have huge economic losses. Deforestation is one of the major reasons for beef consumption. According to Brazil Business, Brazil is the world’s main exporter of beef, exporting to extra more than a hundred and fifty countries. Beef exports account for USD 5 billion of the country’s GDP, and hen exports accounted for around USD 8 billion in 2014. Although there are good sides to stop deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, we should also consider that this will bring serious damage to the economics of Brazil, as well as its GDP.
All the above solutions are not meant to eradicate the agriculture industry such as cattle ranching and crop planting in Brazil, but to apply sustainable measures like eco-tourism and industrial transformation to naturalize this country’s industrial singularity, thus achieving healthy economic growth in the long run. If one day the rainforests used for the purpose of ecotourism are much more profitable per hectare than clearing them for pasture, this sustainable, non-destructive way of sourcing incomes will tremendously benefit the biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest. I am confident to believe that just in the near future we will see things turn better.
AMAZON WATCH » Protecting the Rainforest and Our Climate by Supporting Indigenous Peoples. amazonwatch.org/. Accessed 14 May 2021.
Ballard Brief, “Deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest.”, ballardbrief.org/our-briefs/deforestation-in-the-amazon-rainforest. Accessed 13 May 2021.
Bridgeman, Laura. “Amazon Deforestation: Causes, Effects, Facts, & How to Stop It.” Sentient Media, 11 Dec. 2020, sentientmedia.org/amazon-deforestation/#:~:text=Direct%20Drivers%20of%20Deforestation%20in%20the%20Amazon%201,causes%20of%20forest%20loss%20in%20the%20Amazon.%20.
Deforestation in Brazilian Amazon Surges to 12-Year High - CNN. edition.cnn.com/ 2020/12/01/americas/deforestation-brazil-amazon-bolsonaro-intl/index.html. Accessed 13 May 2021.
Montclair State University Digital Commons - Sigma Xi Student Research Symposium: Deforestation in Amazon: Impact on Indigenous Tribes and Cultural Change in Brazil. digitalcommons.montclair.edu/sigma-xi/2019/poster-1/31/. Accessed 13 May 2021.
Study Shows How Brazilian Cattle Ranching Policies Can Reduce Deforestation | Berkeley News. news.berkeley.edu/2014/04/28/brazil-cattle-ranching-deforestation/. Accessed 13 May 2021.
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“Problems in the Amazon.” WWF, wwf.panda.org/discover/knowledge_hub/where_we_work/amazon/amazon_threats/.
“Negative Effects of Deforestation: The Cons and Impact in 2021.” Action Aid Recycling, 12 Mar. 2021, actionaidrecycling.org.uk/the-negative-effects-of-deforestation-the-cons-and-impact-in-2021/.