Clearing for cattle pasture is the leading cause of deforestation in the Amazon, especially in Brazil, which is the world's largest cattle produer. Besides raising cattle for food, many landowners use cattle to expand their land holdings. By simply placing cattle on an area of forest land, landowners can gain ownership rights to that land.

Most of the beef produced by Brazil is consumed by Brazilians, but cattle products like leather is primarily exported to overseas markets.

The impact of cattle production is even greater than the rainforest cleared directly to establish pasture. Much of soy and other crops grown in deforested areas is used to feed livestock. That makes cattle production the single largest driver of tropical deforestation in the world.

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Review questions

  • How does cattle ranching affect rainforests?
  • Where is cattle ranching the biggest cause of deforestation?
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