The logic of livestock and deforestation in Amazonia

The logic of livestock and deforestation in Amazonia


In the late 1970s through the early 1990s, a majority of Latin America's would be tranformed to pasture lands, causing a multitude of social, economic, and ecological issues from the local to international scale. This article aims to examine why this transformation has occurred. It specifically analyzes the logic and economics of pursuing livestock in Amazonia and the financial gains that can be made through the land and natural resources. The author reviews common explanations and then provides an integrated approach to slow and even halt this trend. 

Conclusions & Takeaways

Through focusing on logic and rationale, this article uniquely shifts the conversation away from common means of explaining away deforestation in Amazonia, including Malthusian pressures, commodity markets, and policy mistakes.  The author calls for a widening of the scop when analyzing the role of cattle ranching in deforestation. She stresses that we must go beyond focusing on policy and subsidy distorations and instead acknowledge that cattle is unique commodity and thus requires a unique approach. 


Hecht SB. The Logic of Livestock and Deforestation in Amazonia. BioScience. 1993;43:687–695. doi:10.2307/1312340.


  • Graduate School of Planning, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA