In a news conference on Tuesday, Brazil’s Environment Minister, Carlos Minc, reported a crackdown on illegal cattle grazing and logging in the Amazon rainforest.
In the state of Rondonia, agents from the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment’s enforcement agency (IBAMA) and police seized around 10,000 head of cattle on illegally deforested land and 3,500 in Para last week.
For the first time since 2004 the rate of deforestation is rising, due to the skyrocketing international demand for agricultural products. At present cattle pasture covers roughly 7.8 per cent of Brazil’s Amazon region, with 73 million cattle outnumbering humans by approximately three to one.
‘In the 12 months through July, deforestation will total as much as 15,000 sq km, roughly half the size of Belgium,’ said Minc. He added that ‘Illegal beef will become an environmental barbecue for Zero Hunger,’ referring to a government anti-hunger program which provides food money for the poor.
Within the next few weeks, pending legal appeals by the ranchers, the confiscated cattle should go to auction, in which case all proceeds will go to funding Zero Hunger and health services for Amazonian natives.
Last month IBAMA fined loggers and grain farmers and will now focus on controlling slaughterhouses and steel companies that obtain charcoal from deforested areas.
The crackdown on illegal activity in the rainforest follows the recent resignation of minister Marina Silva, regarded by many as a guardian of the Amazon.