The destruction of the rainforest for agricultural use is due to two groups: poor farmers with cattle ranches and agricultural companies converting the rainforest in mono cultures or land for animal grazing.
The farmers use the slash-and-burn technique to clear patches of forest for short-term use (a couple of years). They move on to clear a new patch of forest after a few years because the soil gets exhausted of nutrients (soil erosion).
In the Amazon, farmers and companies cultivate coffee, cocoa, opium, tea, soybeans, rubber, bananas, palm oil, pineapples, rice, beans,…
Did you know that the Kayopo community that lives in the Amazon in Brazil won official recognition of its lands in the 1990’s and besides that, illegal logging for agriculture exploitation still happens in the region?
Today, Kayapo warriors travel hundreds of miles by boats and on foot to strike at the illegal camps and defend their land against ranchers, loggers and miners when the government is inactive.
Amazon rainforest prior to agriculture
Amazon rainforest after trees are cut down for agriculture
- Conventional agriculture uses pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers, which contaminate the phreatic table, waterways and destroy the soil’s fauna. The fauna is composed of billions of insects. Without these insects, the soil is unhealthy.
- Agriculture is responsible for approximately 70% of water use worldwide, because the livestock is fed with grains that need a lot of water to be produced.
- Raising animals for food consumes ⅓ of all fresh water and occupies up to 45% of earth’s land.
- 80% of life on earth is in the soil. One interesting fact to know: the mass of earthworms on the planet is more important than the mass of all the other animals together!
- Animal agriculture is responsible for ocean dead zones. 116.000 pounds of farm animal excrement are produced every second in the US alone. That is enough to cover every sq ft of San Francisco, New York City, Tokyo, Paris, New Delhi, Berlin, Hong Kong, London, Rio de Janeiro, Delaware, Bali, Costa Rica and Denmark at the same time.
- Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 to 51 % of greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than the combined exhaust from all transportation.
- Deforestation for agriculture has led to the decline of indigenous tribes.
- Rainforests protected by indigenous communities have the lowest rates of deforestation.
- Cattle ranching has the highest rates of slave labor in Brazil.
- The main reason why forests are cut down is agriculture. According to the World Bank, animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction.
- It is believed that the world’s rainforests could totally vanish in a hundred years if we keep on at the current rate of deforestation. Indeed, 1-2 acres of rainforest are cleared every second ( a football field)!
- Going one year without paper saves 8.5 trees, while going one year without beef saves 3432 trees.
- Conventional agriculture contributes to species extinction by: 1) habitat destruction. We destroy forests to convert them into land for animal grazing and grow crops, and 2) hunting and targeting “predators” seen as a threat to the livestock.
- Up to 137 plant, animal and insect species are lost every day due to rainforest destruction
- Cows (livestock) produce 150 billion gallons of methane per day! Which is 25-100 times more destructive than CO2 on a 20 year time frame. Now, according to the UN Press Release during the Climate Summit in 2014, reducing methane emissions would create tangible benefits almost immediately.