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More Sustainable Practices in the Amazon

The BBC’s website had an article published on their site today about why the Amazon has been clear-cut like it has, but also sheds some light on to what might be done. Understanding the reason for the problem is a big part in finding a solution, and until now, I at least, didn’t know the real reason why there has been such widespread deforestation in the name of farming in the rain forest.

The three main reasons the BBC’s article outlined were migration, cost, and conditions.  In the 60′s through 80′s, the main destination in Brazil for both migrants and investors, was the state of Para, the area that has seen the highest rate of deforestation.  Coupled with the rain forest’s land being very cheap, this drove investments into migrants building farms and cutting down the forest.  Lastly, and possibly the most unexpected, is the rain forest’s soil conditions are rather poor, consisting of a mainly sandy soil with a low amount of nutrients.

This soil condition is a big driving force in today’s continued cutting.  Because the soil quality is poor, and the cost of reinvigorating the soil vs. cost to cut down more forest, the farmers simply cut down more trees.

Thankfully though, the farmers seem to be starting to realise that this is unhealthy, even in light of the sheer size of the forest.  One farmer in particular has cattle production rates that are four times higher than the average of less than one head per hectare (~2.5 acres).  And even better, 80% of the forest on the land he has been using for the last 10 years, is still there.

We can just hope that all of the farmers start to catch on to these sustainable measures.  You can read the full BBC article here.  Image thanks to Naomi Caiden.

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