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Background

Causes of forest destruction

Aerial view of Manaus, the capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas

The main cause of tropical forest loss is the conversion of these forests into pasture and cropland. The world’s growing population is generating a continuous increase in demand for mineral and biological raw materials, food, animal feed, biofuels and other agricultural products.

Other causes of forest destruction include:

  • unsustainable forms of land use resulting from poverty
  • expansion of infrastructure, for instance through the construction of roads and settlements
  • governance shortcomings (inadequate enforcement of existing laws, favouritism and corruption)
  • unsustainable management (economic value of the forest is not viewed in the long term)
  • illegal trade in tropical timber, illegal extraction of raw materials stored in the forest floor
  • lack of legal certainty (lack of clear rights of ownership and use)
  • armed conflicts (arms financed using income from forests)

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