29 Jan 2007

In a statement on Thursday, the Brazilian government’s National Statistics Office (IBGE) said that the southern savannah of the Amazon region — especially the Mato Grosso, Tocantins and southern Maranhao — is the area that offers greatest potential for the country’s soy farmers.

The IBGE added, however, that, ‘The increase in soy planting in Santarem, Maraba and Redencao districts of Para reflected the state government’s policy of encouraging commercial planting in non-savannah areas’.

The office has just published ten new maps, based on 2003 data, of the Amazon agricultural frontier, covering political, social and logistical themes. For the first time they sum up the effects of human activity on the region.

In particular, the new maps show how soybean and other farmers are spreading into the Amazon, causing massive deforestation in the world’s largest rainforest, which covers an area larger than India and is the natural habitat for a quarter of all the world’s species.

The Amazon embraces ten Brazilian states and covers 3.8 million sq km (59) percent of national territory. According to the 2000 government census, it is also home to 20.3 million Brazilians, (12.3 percent of the population).

The new maps show that deforestation is greatest in Para and neighboring Mato Grosso, the Brazilian state that grows most soybeans. Production of soybeans and other grains is also seen to be gropwing in Tocantins, Maranhao and in some parts of the states of Amazonas, Roraima and Rondoni.

IBGE (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatistica)

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