Blog post #4

Deforestation has always been around but became prevalent during the industrialization age. It wasn’t until prior to the 20th century that deforestation became a huge problem in the Amazon. Deforestation in the Amazon increased because farmers began to produce crops for surrounding neighborhoods as well as family. In the 1900’s however, deforestation was driven mainly by industrial activities and Ag.

Before digging deep into the topic of deforestation in Brazil, my understanding of the cause behind it was that we needed more wood for furniture and to build houses. What I did not know was that one of the primary causes of deforestation is for cattle-ranching. Cattle-ranching has become extremely popular. Cattle ranching is currently responsible for about three-fourths of the amazon deforestation. The Amazon currently holds 80 million head of cattle; That’s almost equivalent to the amount of cattle that exist in the entire U.S. The beef is produced from the cattle in the Amazon is mainly for the urban markets. The leather and other cattle products are for export markets.

However, cattle ranching is not the only reason behind deforestation. Logging and infrastructure also play a big role in the deforestation of the Amazon. Some people believe that deforestation in the Amazon starts with the land cleared for illegal roads and highways built by the loggers. Loggers built these roads to have better access to the good quality lumber such as mahogan. There is a controversial highway called the BR-163 also known as the soy highway which splits the center of the Amazon along 1,100 miles. Within those 1,100 miles almost every road in the Amazon is unapproved. This makes me question the Brazilian government. How could people get away with this? The government must not be so harsh or pay much attention to what happens in the Amazon. But shouldn’t that be a priority?

Soy ranching also plays a big role in the deforestation of the Amazon. The expansion of soy farming is due to the fact that the international demand for soy beans is high especially in China meaning economic growth. But is economic growth worth all the effects soy farming comes with? According to worldinfo.org, “The soya industry wipes out biodiversity, destroys soil fertility, pollutes freshwater and displaces communities.” So the money they do generate from soy farming would need to be put back into trying to restore fertile soil, clean water and possibly help those families being displaced by building more houses in the city or outskirts of town.

It’s safe to say we are rapidly killing the Amazon, no doubt about that. But what’s happening in the Amazon is not new. It’s happened before in other developing countries and continues to happen. Deforestation usually occurs in developing countries who have a great amount of rich biodiversity but a struggling economy. According to fao.org poor farmers see the need to cut down more land to produce more. They’re trying to get out of poverty or simply just trying to make enough to survive.

There are so many direct and indirect factors that lead to the deforestation in the Amazon that it might be difficult to put to a halt. But why isn’t it given much importance? It’s swept under the rug and not talked about a lot and the people who do try to speak out in Brazil get killed. It’s said that the government can help slow down the cutting down of trees but NOT the killings of environmentalist. What does that say to the people who actually care about the Amazon?

It say’s stop trying to protect the Amazon, the government will handle it but if you die then it’s on you. Deforestation did decrease for a while, however, it began to rise again. So is the governments efforts really effective? I think not.