Brazil’s rainforest keeps getting gobbled up
More than 10,000 square miles of Amazon rainforest disappeared from Brazil in 2004, the second-highest level of deforestation ever recorded, thanks mainly to the expansion of soy farming. As U.S.-state comparisons are de rigueur in these stories: that’s an area the size of Massachusetts. Though Brazil’s government implemented a $140 million program to slow deforestation last year, and logging did slow in some states, the gains were swamped by the expansion of farming land in the state of Mato Grosso. That state’s governor, Blairo Maggi, is the world’s largest soy producer, called the “king of deforestation” by Greenpeace. Soy is the country’s biggest farm export — it brought in about $10 billion last year. Brazil’s enormous rainforest covers about 60 percent of its land, but experts estimate that around a fifth of it has already been destroyed by logging, development, and farming, causing some to worry that it will become a net producer of carbon dioxide in the near future.
Get Grist in your inbox