Deforestation of the Amazon rainforest accelerated significantly between 1991 and 2004, reaching an annual forest loss rate of 27,423 km² in 2004. Though the rate of deforestation has been slowing since 2004 (with re-accelerations in 2008 and 2013), the remaining forest cover continues to dwindle.
The Amazon rainforest represents over half of the planet’s remaining rainforests, and comprises the largest and most biodiverse tract of tropical rainforest in the world. 60% of the forest is contained within Brazil, followed by Peru with 13%, Colombia with 10%, and with minor amounts in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.
The cattle sector of the Brazilian Amazon, incentivized by the international beef and leather trades, has been responsible for about 80% of all deforestation in the region, or about 14% of the world’s total annual deforestation, making it the world’s largest single driver of deforestation. By 1995, 70% of formerly forested land in the Amazon, and 91% of land deforested since 1970, had been converted to cattle ranching. Much of the remaining deforestation within the Amazon has resulted from farmers clearing land for small-scale subsistence agriculture or mechanized cropland producing soy, palm, and other crops.
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