Drone footage of Brazilian Amazon fires, captured in Manoki Indigenous territory in Mato Grosso state, August 2019.

Brazil: Facts and figures behind illegal cattle farms fuelling Amazon rainforest destruction

  • An estimated 58.4% of the Amazon rainforest is in Brazil.
  • Brazil’s Amazon region lies within the states of Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima, Mato Grosso, Tocantins and part of Maranhão state.
  • From 1988 to 2014, an estimated 63% of the area deforested in the Amazon has become pasture for cattle. That is a total of 480,000km², equivalent to five times the size of Portugal.
  • Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of beef, with its main markets (in terms of volume in 2018) being Hong Kong, China, Egypt, the European Union and Chile.
  • In 2018, the cattle industry accounted for 8.7% of Brazilian Gross Domestic Product, worth an estimated BRL 597 billion (US$149 billion).
  • Brazil has more cows than any other country in the world. In 2018, there were 215 million cows grazing on 162 million hectares (or 19% of its land mass). One hectare is roughly the same size as a football pitch.
  • In 2018, the number of cows in Brazil’s Amazon region exceeded 86 million.
  • Between 2008 and 2018, the number of cows in the Amazon region has increased at a rate almost four times higher (20.5%) than the national rate (5.5%).
  • Between January and August 2019, the non-governmental organization Imazon registered the deforestation of 4,234km² in Brazil’s Amazon region.
  • The number of fires inside Indigenous territories in the Amazon in the first nine months of 2019 is the highest since 2011.
  • For the briefing, Amnesty International interviewed 29 Indigenous people and residents of Reserves in five sites across Brazil’s Amazon, as well 22 experts – including public prosecutors, government officials and representatives of non-governmental organizations. Amnesty also obtained official data through Freedom of Information requests and analyzed satellite imagery.
  • Data obtained by Amnesty International through a Freedom of Information request shows there were over 295,000 cattle in Indigenous territories and environmentally protected areas in the state of Rondônia in November 2018.