Extensive cattle ranching is the biggest cause of deforestation in Latin America

Extensive cattle ranching is one of the main causes of deforestation in Latin America, where three countries are located, the three largest deforestation areas of rainforests: Brazil, Bolivia, and Colombia.

Extensive cattle ranching is the biggest cause of deforestation in Latin America. Image: BBC
Extensive cattle ranching is the biggest cause of deforestation in Latin America. Image: BBC

Deforestation in Latin America is mainly the result of three factors: forestry, on a very small scale, subsistence agriculture and land speculation, which encompasses extensive livestock farming, said the director of Natural Resources and Climate Change. Ford Foundation, David Kaimowitz in an interview published by the Colombian newspaper El Espectador.

One of the reasons for this problem is that Latin America is a favorable region for agribusiness, as is the case of Colombia, where soils that should be used as agricultural land are destined for livestock.

When the State does not have the capacity to take care of its protected areas, it must look for someone to take charge, such as the communities that live there, indigenous peoples or even private groups that can establish agreements with governments.

For example, the case of Brazil, where Luiz Inácio Lula de Silva's government established areas of sustainable development in which peasants or members of the community could take advantage of the resources of the area, but with the commitment not to deforest large areas.

The reason that this model has not been replicated in the rest of Latin America, is because, on the one hand, it is considered that the communities are not capable of assuming this responsibility, and on the other hand, because sometimes there is excessive regulation.

Community forest management can work, as is the case in Mexico, where some companies and communities have established alliances, but there may also be resistance from some elite groups that fear losing control of the land and believe that development will be slowed down.

Although Brazil is considered the biggest deforester worldwide, between 2004 and 2013 they reduced this practice by 75 percent, especially by expanding the area of ​​indigenous and community territories, while enforcing the existing forestry law. This can be achieved through strategies such as surveillance by law enforcement agencies and the identification of areas where the rules are violated in order to impose fiscal sanctions.

Deforestation can be reduced, but it is not possible to end this practice completely, although it also highlighted the fact that in many parts of Latin America there are areas with new forests.

Stopping deforestation not only reduces the emission of greenhouse gases but also guarantees that these trees will continue to capture carbon in the future, as well as the important role they play in the generation of rain and in attenuating wind circulation and thus preventing the earth dries up.

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