Causes and consequences of reduced biodiversity in tropical rain forests In many tropical countries, the majority of deforestation results from the actions of poor subsistence cultivators. However, in Brazil only about one-third of recent deforestation can be linked to cultivators. A large portion of deforestation in Brazil can be attributed to land clearing for pastureland by commercial and speculative interests, misguided government policies, inappropriate World Bank projects, and commercial exploitation of forest resources. For effective action it is imperative that these issues be addressed. Focusing solely on the promotion of sustainable use by local people would neglect the most important forces behind deforestation in Brazil. Brazilian deforestation is strongly correlated to the economic health of the country the decline in deforestation from 1988-1991 nicely matched the economic slowdown during the same period, while the rocketing rate of deforestation from 1993-1998 paralleled Brazil's period of rapid economic growth. During lean times, ranchers and developers do not have the cash to rapidly expand their pasturelands and operations, while the government lacks funds to sponsor highways and colonization programs and grant tax breaks and subsidies to forest exploiters.
Clearing for Cattle Pasture
Cattle ranching are the leading cause of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. This has been the case since at least the 1970s: government figures attributed 38 percent of deforestation from 1966-1975 to large-scale cattle ranching. However, today the situation may be even worse. According to the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), between 1990 and 2001 the percentage of Europe's processed meat imports that came from Brazil rose from 40 to 74 percent and by 2003 for the first time ever, the growth in Brazilian cattle production 80 percent of which was in the Amazon was largely export driven. Factors
* CURRENCY DEVALUATION—The devaluation of...