Monday, January 25, 2016

Deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest for Beef Production

Loss of the Amazon rainforest is one of the most debated and controversial topics being discussed in our time. Amazonian development is an issue that arose when the first colonists and corporate ranchers took advantage of new infrastructure and government largesse. This was done with the goal of moving into bio-diverse, protected regions of the rainforest. This has been occurring since the early 1970s, despite debates regarding whether or not the rainforest could produce a sustainable agricultural economy. Ranching quickly emerged as the Amazon’s primary land use and has caused lots of concern regarding the sustainability of the land when used for beef production. The overgrazing of the land and deforestation has led to issues with erosion, and nutrient poor soil. Amazonian pastures today support herds of over 70 million animals, about one third of Brazil’s commercial stock; they also account for at least 80% of all deforested lands in the region.

 Due to the growing international demand for Amazonian beef, there had been an increase in the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest in order to create pastures to meet the demand for this growing market. The top figure shows the massive increase in the demand for Amazonian beef over the course of the last 45 years. The bottom figure is a map depicting roadways, cities, municipal boundaries, and the density of cattle populations in each municipal boundary. This is an important figure because through this map we can see the cattle population's immense growth in between 1990 and 2005. These maps can also be used to compare areas of the Amazon forest where deforestation and soil deficiencies are occurring in order to establish a connection between corporate ranching operations and local ecological issues. 

Walker, R., Browder, J., Arima, E., Simmons, C., Pereira, R., Caldas, M., ... & de Zen, S. (2009). Ranching and the new global range: AmazĂ´nia in the 21st century. Geoforum40(5), 732-745.

I have acted with honesty and integrity in producing this work and am unaware of anyone who has not.
-Daniel Buffington


  1. Did the article talk about the impact of beef production in other surrounding countries in the Amazon area? I think that would be interesting to look in to.

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  3. Combining density level statistics and GIS processes is a good way of assessing aspects of a region. I wonder if this same type of density assessment could be used to evaluate ever-changing water levels of oceans, lakes, rivers, etc.