Ethanol production in the United States may be contributing to deforestation in the Brazilian rainforest said a leading expert on the Amazon.
Dr. Daniel Nepstad of the Woods Hole Research Center said the growing demand for corn ethanol means that more corn and less soy is being planted in the United States. Brazil, the world's largest producer of soybeans, is more than making up for shortfall, by clearing new land for soy cultivation. While only a fraction of this cultivation currently occurs in the Amazon rainforest, production in neighboring areas like the cerrado grassland helps drive deforestation by displacing small farmers and cattle producers, who then clear rainforest land for subsistence agriculture and pasture.
...The rapid expansion of soybean cultivation in the Amazon carriers other risks as well, according to research published last month in Geophysical Research Letters. Using experimental plots in the Amazon, a team of scientists led by Marcos Costa from the Federal University of Viçosa in Brazil found that clearing for soybeans increases the reflectivity or albedo of land, reducing rainfall by as much as four times relative to clearing for pasture land.
Sydney: Environmental groups have been highly critical of sugar-cane ethanol production in Brazil, claiming that it contributes to deforestation. The sugar-cane industry may deflated this claim by producing maps that show that sugar-cane is being produced elsewhere (see article below Steve's excerpt).
Last edited on Mon Jul 5th, 2010 10:05 pm by sydneyst