Deforestation- Causes and Effects

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Deforestation

 

Causes

 

Cattle ranching causes about 60% of deforestation activities in Brazil. Cattle ranches cover over 214000 square miles of land. Brazil is the largest exporter of beef products in the world, thus high revenue is generated. In 2012, the total value of beef exports was almost US$6 billion.

 

Small-scale agriculture- Poor farmers in Brazil are encouraged to settle on forest land according to government land policies. From 1995 to 1998, the government granted land in the Amazon to about 150000 families. The farmers often clear forests by burning them. After one or two years of planting, the soil loses its fertility and the farmers clear new land for planting. Small-scale agriculture increases food stability, generates revenue and creates employment. The high unemployment rate of 15% in Brazil is alleviated due to employment of 12.3 million workers in small-scale farms.

 

Large-scale agriculture- Brazil is one of the leading soybean exporters in the world. Since 1990, soybean cultivation areas have expanded at the rate of 14% per year, now covering over 8 million hectares of land. High revenue is generated from soybean exports, totaling US$38 million in 2011.

 

Transport infrastructure- The Trans-Amazonian highway bisects the Amazon forest, allowing easy access to mining and logging sites and also allowing poor farmers to exploit the forest land.

 

Logging activities generate revenue. The export value of timber products totaled almost US$3 billion in 2009. Timber industries employ about 200,000 people, alleviating unemployment rates.

 

Hydroelectric power dam construction- hydroelectric dams in Brazil provide 67% of electricity to the country. The Tucurui Dam improves navigation and generates electricity for about 3 million people as well as industries, which create about 2000 jobs.

 

Mining, oil and gas development- In the Carajas Mineral Province, wood from the forest is cut for charcoal to fuel pig iron plants. Carajas is rich with ores such as iron, aluminium, copper and tin. High revenue is generated from mining with an export value of US$22.5 million in 2008.

 

Effects

 

High revenue is generated from the export of forest resources such as iron, oil and timber. The clearance of forestland, which increases agricultural activities, also generates high revenue. In 2012, the total value of beef exports from Brazil totaled almost US$6 billion. Foreign debt is reduced. In 2011, Brazil had a GDP of about US$2500 billion, which was enough to pay off US$400 billion in debt. Unemployment rates are also lowered as the timber industry employs 200000 people and about 12.3 million people work in small-scale farms. However, the renewable forest resources such as timber are be depleted faster than they are being replenished. The non-renewable resources such as iron ore is expected to deplete in 50 years time. Therefore, revenue cannot be generated in the long-term and forest industries may have to close down, raising unemployment rates.

From 1995 to 1998, the government granted 3 million hectares of land of the Amazon to 3 million landless farmers, allowing

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