Five municipalities account for one-fifth of all deforestation carried out in Amazon last year
Concentration of deforestation in municipalities where cattle-raising advanced the most was already seen in previous years — Foto: Evandro Monteiro/Valor
The five Brazilian municipalities with the largest increase in cattle herds between 2020 and 2021, all located in the so-called Legal Amazon, accounted for almost one-fifth (17%) of all deforestation carried out in the region last year.
The cattle herds of Marabá, Altamira, São Félix do Xingu, and Novo Repartimento (Pará) and Porto Velho (Rondônia) gained 591,700 new heads last year, according to data from the Municipal Cattle Survey released Thursday by Brazil’s statistics agency IBGE. The country had a total of 224 million head of cattle last year, 6 million more than in 2020.
Those same municipalities reported deforestation of 2.2 million hectares in 2021, according to the most recent data from Prodes, of the National Space Research Institute (Inpe). This accounted for 17% of the entire deforested area in the Legal Amazon, which exceeded 13 million hectares this year.
In Marabá, where the cattle herd grew most last year, 73,600 hectares were deforested. In Altamira, the second municipality where the number of animals increased the most, deforestation extended to over 765,500 hectares.
São Félix do Xingu, which was for years the leader in cattle herd, was the third municipality with the biggest increase, with a hike of 106,000 animals in 2021. Also last year, deforestation in the municipality reached 577,000 hectares.
Another highlight was Porto Velho, the capital of Rondônia, where the herd grew by 86,000 animals and 619,300 hectares were deforested. Novo Repartimento was the fifth municipality that saw its herd grow the most last year, with an increase of 82,600 heads, and where 190,500 hectares were deforested.
This concentration of deforestation rates in municipalities where cattle-raising advanced the most was already seen in previous years.
In 2020, the five municipalities where the number of animals in the country grew the most also accounted for 14% of the deforestation in the Legal Amazon in the period. In that year, the municipalities where the number of animals increased the most were Novo Repartimento, Pacajá, Marabá, and São Félix do Xingu — all in the state of Pará.
“In the [municipalities] champions of deforestation, cattle are side by side with land expansion. They need to increase the herd to establish land tenure. So, the expansion [of the herd] is not necessarily something that indicates an increase in the economic relevance of cattle ranching in Brazil. Many times, it is more linked to a process of land grabbing than meat production,” said Raoni Rajão, a professor at the Minas Gerais Federal University and a researcher at the Washington-based Wilson Center.
*By Camila Souza Ramos — São Paulo
Source: Valor International