With its uninterrupted advance in the last 38 years, agriculture and livestock currently occupy a third of the country’s territory. Data collected by MapBiomas released this Friday the 6th show that between 1985 and 2022, the area occupied by these agricultural activities grew by 50%, incorporating a territory equivalent to Mato Grosso, the third largest state in Brazil.
Almost two-thirds of the advance of the agricultural frontier is due to deforestation for pastures. According to the aforementioned study, between 2008 and 2012 there was a decrease in the replacement of native vegetation with grasses, but the levels rose again starting in 2013.
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The socio-environmental impacts of agricultural activity in Brazil are extensive. “The expansion of agricultural (activity) continues to imply deforestation. This contributes to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions in the country, the loss of natural ecosystems and their biodiversity, also impacting the regulation of the climate and the hydrological cycle. “says Julia Shimbo, scientific coordinator of MapBiomas.
“This expansion also often causes territorial and social conflicts with traditional and indigenous communities. In addition, inadequate agricultural management can lead to soil degradation and long-term loss of productivity,” he adds.
The Amazon is where this process has taken place the most, especially in the state of Pará. Four decades ago, the Amazon area that was occupied by pastures for agricultural (activity) was 13.7 million. In 2022, it jumped to 57.7 million.
“We still have the loss of native vegetation in all biomes, with different conversion patterns. The increase in the surface area for pastures in the Amazon region, which exceeds the surface area of the Cerrado, is related to the growth of deforestation in the region in recent years, mainly for the use of pastures,” explains Shimbo. “But many of these areas are not productive, and the conversion is done for the sale of land that can then be converted to agriculture.”
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Soybeans quadruple the area occupied in the Cerrado region
Of the total land incorporated by agricultural activities since 1985 and destined for agricultural cultivation, practically all of it (96%) produces cereals and sugar cane. Tripling its area in the last 38 years, these crops today occupy 7% of the Brazilian territory.
And transgenic soybeans are the star crop. Of the 58.7 million hectares occupied by these crops, 35 million are soybeans. This raw material alone has multiplied by four the surface area it occupies in the country.
Although this process takes place in all biomes, it is in the Cerrado where soybeans have multiplied by more than 15 in the period analyzed. “Despite the accelerated growth in recent years in the Amazon, the Cerrado represents 48% of the area planted with soybeans in Brazil,” highlights the MapBiomas material.
Edited by: Thalita Pires