Amazon deforestation on the rise as SUV demand keeps up

A new Amazon analysis has determined that Amazon deforestation in the region grew by 17 percent over the past year. The cause of the increase, according to the analysis by EcoAmazon, is increased consumption of leather in luxury SUVs, which tend to be larger and power more than the size of the vehicles themselves.

EcoAmazon looked at data from the most recent 12 months by the International Trade Centre (ITC) to provide a preliminary analysis of the extent of deforestation in Amazonian regions. In this study, EcoAmazon shows that deforestation in all areas of the region has increased since 2013, but the data reveals particular trends within the tropics. In regions without natural resources such as Brazil, areas where big agricultural crops are harvested have been affected less. This is because many of the areas they are harvested are found close to the top of the Amazon basin.

The areas of deforestation that are most impacted, however, are the Amazon region bordering the coast. Across these regions, EcoAmazon reports that there are countries where leather products are produced or consumed. These include Madagascar, Mozambique, and Vietnam, all of which have significant leather extraction industries. Madagascar, for example, receives a large amount of leather from Brazil, and consequently sees its deforestation rates increase.

The worrying thing about the increased availability of leather in luxury SUVs, though, is that the region is already suffering more than its fair share of lost forest for environmental reasons, because of the buildup of plastic waste and a general lack of clean air and water across the region.

Amazon deforestation now makes up 65 percent of global tropical deforestation. Much of this destruction is located in the tropics, where deforestation has been particularly high for years. Amazon Research Founder, Gaurav Jain, shared his thoughts about the issue of deforestation in this way,

“The loss of forest for agriculture in the tropics is partly connected to urbanization, where people have moved from rural to urban areas or are simply in search of a better livelihood. As a result, the losses to rural forests have accelerated greatly over the past several decades. In the Amazon, there is a growing debate on the future of Amazonian ecosystems with estimates that the eco-system could have lost as much as 22,000 square kilometers of forests by 2020.”

The data gathered by EcoAmazon show that leather comes from not only Brazil, which is the big consumer of leather in the Amazon region, but also Mozambique, Madagascar, and Vietnam. The data also help to show how the sizes of the caravans transporting rubber to rural areas of the region are changing. Local forests are being cleared for use for industrial logging and clear-cutting.

The big concern, though, is the possibility that continued demand from the Amazon region for luxury SUVs that produces high quantities of leather could mean increased deforestation across the region. With big companies like Apple and Tesla, who is currently building a $5 billion $5 billion plant in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, producing large quantities of leather, this could lead to increased consumption of leather in these areas.

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