Amazon Deforestation

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Jan 6, 2023, 16:25

Amazon Forest Deforestation is a growing concern for the world. Being the largest rainforest globally, the Amazon rainforest accounts for over half of Earth's total rainforests. It is located in South America, spread across nine countries of Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana.

Deforestation of the Amazon rainforest has become a cause for global concern. This has become the subject of various international environmental agreements, including COP26 in 2021. Here, we have shared more about the rate and causes of Amazon Rainforest Deforestation.

Amazon Deforestation

The first signs of Amazon Rainforest Deforestation were noticed in the years 1991-2004 due to large-scale cattle ranching. It has been gradually decreasing since, but 2021 saw the worst deforestation levels in the last 15 years. Amazon Deforestation is having a detrimental impact on global warming, ecology, and the indigenous population residing in the forest.

The Amazon Rainforest is known as the "lungs of the world" because it absorbs a large amount of the world’s greenhouse gases. However, the large-scale cattle ranching and agricultural sector have led to the deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest.

Amazon Deforestation Rate

In January 2022, Reuters reported that Amazon forest deforestation hit a record high in Brazil. Here is a table indicating deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon in the last 5 years:


Estimated Remaining Forest Cover (sq. km)

Annual Forest Loss (sq. km)

Remaining Forest Cover (%)

























Deforestation of the Amazon - Major Causes

Amazon Deforestation is the tragic result of industrialisation and development. While it peaked during the 1990s and early 2000s, it is once again on the rise. It has escalated since colonisation and subsequent industrialisation and in 2018, it impacted around 17% of the Amazon rainforest. Amazon Rainforest Deforestation poses a threat to the millions of species of flora and fauna in its ecosystem, the indigenous people of the Amazon, the local water level, and the global climate.

Cattle ranching and other major causes of deforestation in the Amazon need to be strictly regulated to prevent this environmental catastrophe. The causes that contribute to the significant deforestation of the Amazon are given below.

Cattle Ranching

This accounts for 63% of direct deforestation in the Amazon. It results from the growing demands of the beef and leather industries. Due to this, major rainforest areas are converted into artificial grasslands to graze cattle, often illegally. In 2009, Brazil's largest beef producers (Bertin, JBS, Marfrig, Minerva) entered into the G4 Cattle Agreement to restrict cattle reared from illegal deforestation from entering the supply chain.

Crude Oil

Another major cause of Amazon Rainforest Deforestation is Crude oil mining. As per reports, the United States is majorly responsible for importing crude oil from the Amazon and depleting the rainforest of its resources. Crude oil mining releases a large amount of greenhouse gases, which affects the environment negatively.

Small-Scale Agriculture

Subsistence and commercial agriculture are one of the main causes of deforestation in the Amazon. The "slash and burn" farming technique where forest land is cleared to grow crops is severely detrimental.

Forest Fires

Rainforests are typically safe from forest fires due to the high moisture levels. However, large-scale deforestation has paved the way for drier land that is susceptible to fires. In 2019, 76,000 fires were burning at once in the Amazon!

Large-Scale Agriculture

Industrial agricultural operations are the result of global meat-heavy diets. Soy is grown in the Amazon to feed animals in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) or factory farms and is a big reason for deforestation.


Timber from the Amazon rainforest is in high demand in other countries. Logging involves the cutting up of trees and selling the logs for money. However, logging is not the biggest threat to the forest as it is controlled with strict licensing and regulations.

Impact of Amazon Forest Deforestation

Amazon Deforestation is already causing irreversible damage to the rainforest and the environment. If the rate of deforestation of the Amazon rainforest is not stopped, it will lead to a large-scale devastation of the biodiversity of the forest. Consequently, it will also impact the life outside the rainforest. Here are some areas that will be affected by the Amazon rainforest deforestation -

  • Temperature - Deforestation of the Amazon will lead to temperature rise in Brazil and other parts of the South American continent.
  • Global warming - Deforestation has an immediate impact on global warming. When the forests are destroyed, the emissions will increase, and so will global warming.
  • Indigenous people - The Amazon rainforests have a large number of indigenous population living in the forests. Deforestation introduces several threats to their lifestyle and civilization.
  • Water supply - The rainforest is a main source of water supply to Brazil and other parts of the South American continent. If the Amazon rainforest deforestation continues at the same pace, the water supply to Brazil will soon be interrupted.

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FAQs on Amazon Deforestation

Q.1) What is Amazon Deforestation?

Amazon Deforestation refers to the human activities that are deliberately removing trees from the Amazon rainforest. The large-scale removal of trees of the Amazon can be done for motives such as gathering wood, grazing cattle, crude oil mining, etc., and has an irreversible negative impact on the rainforest and the environment.

Q.2) What are the major causes of Amazon deforestation?

The major causes of deforestation of the Amazon include cattle ranching, small and large scale agriculture, forest fires, crude oil mining and logging. All these activities destroy the forest land, leading to an irreversible negative impact on the Amazon rainforest and the environment itself.

Q.3) What is the rate of deforestation of the Amazon rainforest?

The Amazon rainforest is being deforested at an alarming rate. In August 2022, 1.4 thousand square kilometers of forest land was deforested. This was three per cent more than the rate of deforestation in January. In total, the land lost to Amazon Deforestation in 2022 was 11,600 square kilometers of land.

Q.4) What is being done to stop Amazon Deforestation?

Many steps are being taken to stop Amazon Deforestation. In the 2022 Cop Summit 27, Brazilian president promised to take action against the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. He stated that strict action will be taken against those who engage in illegal activities such as logging and mining in the Amazon rainforest.