Cattle boom in Brazil’s Acre spells doom for Amazon rainforest, activists warn


·         Government data show the number of cattle in Acre, a state in the Brazilian Amazon, increased by 8.3% in 2020, putting the state’s herd size at more than 3.8 million, or four times its human population.

·         The cattle industry is a key driver of Acre’s economy, and aligns with the state’s aims of promoting and expanding agricultural development within the region.

·         However, activists say they’re concerned the increase will lead to further environmental damage in the state, which this year recorded its highest deforestation rate in 18 years.

·         Experts say Acre’s cattle growth is currently not sustainable and will lead to further deforestation in the Amazon unless sustainable solutions are encouraged and implemented.


by Sarah Brown, Mongabay

7 January 2022


Mongabay is a U.S.-based non-profit conservation and environmental science news platform.


With about 80% of its forests still untouched, Acre is one of Brazil’s least-deforested Amazonian states. Bordered by Peru on the west, it represents just 1.7% of Brazil’s huge land mass but is of great ecological importance as it’s mostly covered in both dense and open Amazon rainforest, home to giant anteaters, sloths, and harpy eagles, among hundreds of endemic species.


But in the past three decades, the thriving cattle industry has become a major threat to Acre’s forests, with livestock now outnumbering the state’s human population by a factor of four….


… Several factors have fueled the growth of the cattle industry in Acre, including an increase in international demand for meat products, especially from China, according to IBGE data. Dr. Mitke said productivity in the Brazilian cattle industry has also gone up by 150% in the last 30 years, allowing ranches to grow their herds. “There’s a technological revolution. It’s slow, but it’s a revolution, nonetheless,” he said. “With improved technology, we’re able to increase the number of animals per hectare, which means we can put more cattle in the same sized area and provide a potential sustainable solution to having livestock.”


Rômulo Batista, a Greenpeace Amazon campaigner, said another possible factor is the practice of land grabbing, where unscrupulous parties occupy and exploit public land and then claim it as private property. “Unfortunately, it’s increasingly common to have livestock in the Amazon as an attempt to validate land ownership,” he told Mongabay by phone. “[The people who take the land] put cattle on the land they took to say there’s some type of farm production there in an attempt to legalize it.”


Less forest, more cattle ...


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