According to the World Resources Institute Brazil had the highest carbon dioxide equivalent emissions in the region in 2001, primarily due to changes in land use. (WRI: Climate Analysis Indicators Tool) Most of the region’s forests are in South America, particularly in Brazil and Peru, which comprise 92% of the total forest cover. These countries are among the 10 that hold two-thirds of the world’s forests and jungles. Because of its size, the greatest extent of deforestation is in Brazil, but the deforestation rates are higher in Mexico and Argentina. While the deforestation rate in Brazil in the 1990s was 0.4%, the rate in Mexico and Argentina was 1.1% and 0.8%, respectively (FAO 2001a).
Tree-felling in the Brazilian Amazon basin during the last decade increased by 32%, from 14,000 to 18,000 square kilometres per year. The major sources of pressure in the forests include the expansion of farming and livestock activities and urban spread, which force a re-conversion of the land. Lumber extraction, forest fires and climate events also affect the forests, as do the proliferation of pests.In Latin America and the Car, the loss of forest coverage is more due to the expansion of the highway network, extensive livestock ranching and mechanised agriculture than to lumber extraction, which is concentrated in relatively few countries (GEO LAC 2003). More recently, there has also been the impact of plants in the Amazon and Cerrado regions that are involved in the production of beef and soybean substitutes, with a harmful impact on the forests. (UNEP/ROLAC and Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Mexico: Climate Change in the Latin America and Caribbean, )