More than 10,000 hectares of forest have been cleared in the
states of Pará and Mato Grosso in northern Brazil due to illegal cattle
The deforestation was identified in an analysis by Instituto
Socioambiental (ISA), a Brazilian conservation NGO that has been
tracking deforestation in the Xingu river basin.
The illegal ranching is also encroaching on indigenous
reserves, according to ISA. The Cachoeira Seca do Iriri, an indigenous
reservation and the ancestral land of the Arara people, has lost 1,096 ha of
forest since January, mostly due to the extension of existing pasture.
Similarly, the Triunfo do Xingu Environmental Protected Area
(APA) lost 1,911 ha of forest in July alone, taking total deforestation within
the area this year to 15,134 ha. Juan Doblas of ISA said the deforestation
demonstrated “the power and capability of the agribusiness sector within the
The expansion of illegal pastures in the area is taking
place despite the commitment made in 2009 by slaughterhouses and meat
processors in Pará and other Brazilian states – known as TAC da carne –
to avoid sourcing cattle from illegally deforested areas.
The agreement is failing in its aim to halt illegal
deforestation connected to cattle ranching in the Amazon. According to data
released last March by the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office (MPF), in 2016,
17 slaughterhouses in Pará sourced at
least 117,000 head of cattle from farms implicated in illegal deforestation.
JBS, the world’s largest meat processor, was the company with the worst record,
responsible for the purchase of over 85,000 head of cattle from farms
implicated in illegal deforestation.
Despite these findings, the MPF has decided not
to sanction any company on the basis there was no “bad faith” on the part of the
slaughterhouses involved. The MPF also concluded that no more than 30 percent
of the cattle purchased by these slaughterhouses came from farms presenting
irregularities, a result the organ deemed “satisfactory”.
Back in the Xingu river basin, conservationists say that
ranches and slaughterhouses found guilty of fuelling illegal deforestation in
the area must be embargoed and
fined by the authorities if the agreement is to have any chance of surviving.