From: Associated Press
Published January 26, 2007 09:12 AM

Brazil Maps Out Agricultural Sprawl in the Amazon

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Brazil's Census Bureau on Thursday published a new map outlining where agricultural boundaries are encroaching on the Amazon rain forest, in a move that will help authorities monitor human activities in the region.


The new maps outline data for each type of activity, allowing authorities to better monitor what is damaging the environment the most.


"It will now be possible, for the first time, to see where human activities have impacted the Amazon's environment, from deforestation, mining, cattle ranching and crop expansion," the Census Bureau, or IBGE, said in a statement.


The satellite imagery map is based on data as recent as 2003, IBGE said.


The deforestation began with extensive cattle ranching and soy farming between 1970 and the 1990s, with soy moving into the area in the 90s, IBGE said. Most of the soy is planted in the savannah regions of the Amazon River basin, in states like Mato Grosso, Para, Tocantins and Maranhao.


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The Amazon is the fastest growing cattle region. Between 1995 and 2001, when nationwide pasture land grew by 0.6 percent, states like Para had growth of 6 percent and Rondonia had 14 percent, according to local livestock consultancy Scot Consultoria.


IBGE said cattle and soy led to the expansion of highways in the region, and once the roads came, timber interests moved in because of the lack of raw material in the southern states where most of Brazil's furniture is produced.


The Amazon region covers nearly 60 percent of Brazil and 20 percent of its forest -- 1.6 million square miles (4.1 million square kilometers) -- already has been destroyed by development, logging and farming.


Source: Associated Press


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