The causes of deforestation
Slash and burn, for both cultivation and cattle breeding, is the main cause behind deforestation in Amazonia. The strong agricultural pressure induced by the arrival of settlers coming from the Andes to the Amazonian basin gave rise to intensive agricultural models. Consequently, soils got deeply degraded, barely profitable, and even infertile. Farmers are thus often forced to burn down new patches of land every three years to maintain their productivity. When it comes to cattle breeding, the extensive model used in this region (3 to 6 cows per hectares) necessitates thousands of hectares of land that are cleared and deforested to allow the cattle to graze.
Forest exploitation is the oldest know cause of deforestation. “Clearcutting” and “selective cutting” are deeply harmful, they give way to a massive waste of resources or deprive forests of their natural balance. Only 30% of the cut wood ends up being commercialized. Cattle breeding is the main and direct cause of deforestation.
However, intensive agriculture, by always going deeper into the forest, is also a major factor for deforestation. The prominent cultivation of soy is thriving at the expense of the tropical forest area known as Cerrado in Brazil. In Brazil, the changes in the assignment of plots (that is to say, for example, deciding to convert a forest into a land dedicated to soy cultivation or into a grazing field for cattle) represent about 2/3 of the country’s greenhouse gases.