A recent study showed that cattle grazing in Brazil is the single biggest killer of the Amazon Forest Policy Research . Each pound of beef produced by a single cow requires 210 square feet of cropland and 211 gallons of water. The average cow consumes 84,000 jugs of water and needs two football fields to graze. According to the World Wildlife Fund, a cow’s consumption requires 92 square miles of cropland and 214 gallons of water per year. The beef industry in Brazil is growing at a rate of ten percent per annum, and the demand for beef continues to grow.
The Amazon region has been the most aggressively attacked by the cattle industry. In 2018, cattle numbers grew fourfold to 86 million, or 40 percent of the country’s total. The expansion of the livestock industry in the Amazon is destroying huge tracts of rainforest. As a result, more than half of the deforested area has become pasture for cattle, which is equivalent to five times the size of Portugal. According to Amnesty International, between August and July 2019, Indigenous territories lost an estimated 497km2 of rainforest – nine times more than a year earlier.
The beef industry in Brazil is one of the biggest causes of the Amazon forest’s deforestation. The number of cattle in the Amazon region quadrupled to 86 million in 2018 – an increase of eight times the previous year. The expansion of the cattle industry has resulted in the destruction of vast stretches of rainforest. The amount of rainforest destroyed since 2004 is five times larger than Portugal. The process has been documented by Amnesty International and has led to a billion-dollar law suit against the country’s cattle industry.
The Brazilian beef industry has been causing deforestation in the Amazon since the 1970s. In fact, cattle are the number one cause of deforestation in the Amazon. Its expansion has resulted in the destruction of large areas of forest. Amnesty International’s November 2019 report outlines the deforestation in the Amazon region and the massive number of Brazilian cattle.
Following Amnesty International’s findings, the Brazilian government has already taken steps to end the impunity that surrounds these violent acts. The country’s Minister of Justice should convene a meeting of federal, state and civil society representatives to draft a comprehensive plan of action. The plan should focus on ending the violence against forest defenders and dismantling criminal networks that promote illegal deforestation in the Amazon.