Deforested Amazon used for cattle
Brasilia - More than 60% of deforested areas of the Brazilian Amazon forest are used for grazing cattle, while only 5% is used for agriculture, a new government study said.
From research of satellite imagery, Brazilian officials found of the 719 000 square kilometres cleared up to 2008, a whopping 62% was left as just grass, and that the use amounted to on average one cow per hectare, roughly the size of a football field.
"Having less than one head of cattle per hectare is unacceptable," said Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira in comments quoted by the Brazilian press on Saturday.
"It's a waste, because the forest is being replaced by something that does not generate income or growth," she lamented.
While 5% of the land goes to agriculture, some 21% is effectively abandoned and left to its own regeneration.
Brazil, which has jurisdiction over most of the Amazon, the world's largest rainforest, has committed to drastically reduce deforestation by 80% by 2020, though preliminary data indicates that in the last 12 months the process has in fact increased by some 15%, according to government figures.