MATOGROSSO, BRASIL 2012: A group of indigenous ethnicity Manoki rest while waiting to resume their journey to the river. Their lands today are surrounded by large cattle and crops extensions. The problems and the tension between landowners and indigenous is very tense in this region of Brazil.
Between 2000 and 2007, the Brazilian Amazon was deforested at an average rate of 19,368 km2 per year. Over this time, 154,312 km2 of forest, an area larger than Greece4, was destroyed.
Cattle ranching which has been expanding continuously since the early 1970s, is responsible for the majority of Amazon deforestation. This is the result of more than 30 years of government policies that have encouraged investments in infrastructure (roads, dams), occupation of the territory (induced migration) and public funding of such activities.
Illegally occupied forest land is currently very cheap; making cattle ranching both profitable and expanding. In 2003, a study funded by the World Bank showed the direct relationship between deforestation and cattle ranching, the report detailed how ranching is a strong driver for occupation, conversion and trade of illegally- used land.
Brazil has the largest commercial cattle herd in the world and has been the world’s largest beef exporter since 2003. A Greenpeace survey based on Brazilian government data shows that in 2006 cattle occupied 79.5% of the land already in use in the Brazilian Legal Amazon .