With a surface of 850 million
hectares, Brazil is the fifth largest country in the
world. The country covers an area more than twice
as big as the European Union. Nearly two thirds of
this immense territory is occupied by forest, ranking
Brazil 2nd in the list of the world's most forest-rich
countries, after the Russian Federation.
largest rainforest at risk
Brazil hosts the largest area of rainforest in the
world. The Amazon rainforest is a primary forest.
It is home to 50 % of global biodiversity, 20 million
people and 20 % of the freshwater resources of the
planet. It is a valuable ecosystem that provides a
multitude of ecological, economic and social functions
for both the local people and the entire planet.
This ecosystem, one of the
richest on Earth, is also one of the most threatened.
The Brazilian Amazon has the highest rate of deforestation
of the planet. A study based on satellite images by
the National Institute for Space Research of Brazil
(INPE) found a total loss of 72 million hectares since
1970, or 17% of its total area.
Brazil has lost an average
of 2.9 million hectares of forest per year between
1990-2000 and 2.65 million hectares per year between
2000-2010. Deforestation has steadily declined since
2004, due to several factors including regulations
and national forest programmes, as well as private
and international initiatives.
do we destroy the rainforest?
In a country as vast as Brazil, the causes of deforestation
are diverse and vary according to the economic, political
and social contexts.
For many years, the main
reason for deforestation in the Amazon basin was slash
and burn agriculture by small farmers. Today, large
farmers, especially cattle farmers, seem to be primarily
responsible for the conversion of forest to pastures.
Large commercial plantations of soybean, oil palm
and sugar cane, the development of road networks,
hydroelectric infrastructure and logging are also
important causes of deforestation.