When we think of deforestation, we often imagine trees being felled for the sake of construction, fuel, of paper. In actuality, the primary agent behind the rampant destruction of the worlds rainforestshome to an untold bounty of invaluable life forms, possible cures to humanitys ills, not to mention providing our primary oxygen sourceis the clearing of land to provide food and space for livestock, to provide food for us. The removal of trees without sufficient reforestation, which rarely happens, has resulted in damage to habitat, biodiversity loss and aridity. It has adverse impacts on natural sequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Deforested regions typically incur significant adverse soil erosion and frequently degrade into wasteland, causing the worlds needy to waste away.
The cattle sector in the Amazon is the single largest driver of global deforestation.
Slaughtering The Amazon, Greenpeace
"The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from global to local ... Expansion of livestock production is a key factor in deforestation, especially in Latin America where the greatest amount of deforestation is occurring."
Food & Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. Livestock's Long Shadow (2006)
An estimated 80% of annual world deforestation is related to animal agriculture. In Central America, 40% of all the rainforests have been cleared or burned down in the last 40 years,
mostly for cattle pasture to feed the export marketoften for U.S. beef burgers.
World Rainforest Report
On average, each hectare of grazing land supports no
more than one head of cattle,whose carbon content is a fraction
of a ton. In comparison, over 200 tons of carbon per
hectare may be released within a short time after forest and
other vegetation are cut, burned, or chewed. From the soil
beneath, another 200 tons per hectare may be released, with
yet more GHGs from livestock respiration and excretions.