Beef-export boom spurs Gran Chaco deforestation


Land cleared for cattle ranching in Salta, one of the Argentine provinces where the expansion of pastureland is driving deforestation. (Photo by Greenpeace)

Once the engine of Argentina’s economy in the 19th and early 20th century, the beef-export industry later lagged behind large-scale grain production—particularly in recent decades, amid the country’s embrace of soybean cultivation for foreign markets. Now, however, beef is experiencing a rebound. After a lengthy lull, beef-export earnings are on the rise, thanks to favorable tax policy and booming demand from China. The turnaround has intensified environmental pressure on natural lands in Argentina’s portion of the Gran Chaco, the vast expanse of low forest and savanna that extends from northern Argentina into eastern Bolivia, western Paraguay and a portion of southern Brazil. “The area [of the Gran Chaco] that is suitable for agriculture already was deforested years ago and planted with soy and other crops,” says Ana Álvarez, an agricultural engineer who works with rural communities of the Argentine Chaco as a member of Asociana, a... [Log in to read more]

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