Amazon Loggers are Throwing Forest Destruction “To the Wind”

Amazon loggers are catching more than trees: An unprecedented surge in demand for high-end leather hides is also driving up the price of tobacco leaves in the Andes that are consumed in niche jeans, sneakers and handbags.

Key increases in consumption of cheese and other high-quality hides within the leather industry caused the price of rarified tobacco that goes into the finishing and final processing of leather hides to surge, according to an investigation published in the US Friday. This resulted in mass deforestation in the Bajos del Valles region of northern Chile and sugarcane fields in the northern Andes that were in the process of converting land for agriculture or sustainable practices.

Eighty percent of the cigars produced in America are made of tobacco, yet it’s just 5 percent of all domestic cigarette consumption. The majority of these cigars come from Brazil, whose government is behind efforts to reduce tobacco consumption. But in Brazil, the most prominent producer of denim and textiles, leather currently accounts for up to 30 percent of national GDP.

In 2000, 7 percent of the meat consumed in America came from rural areas. Ten years later, the figure stood at 17 percent, an increase of 400 percent. Since 2001, over 1 million hectares of forest have been lost in the American Southwest – the largest amount since the 1980s.

The majority of these mountains of zoonotic forest insecticide residues are already earmarked for agriculture or sustainable practices. Americans’ avarice for leather in luxury SUVs is causing more serious issues. Parts of many luxury SUVs are made of soft leather – pliant for open-wheel driving. Ahead of the Carmax opening of its first luxury SUV last summer, scientists and conservationists warned that animal fur and leather contain byproducts of bovine protein, a toxic substance.

Americans’ appetite for leather in luxury SUVs is causing more serious issues. Parts of many luxury SUVs are made of soft leather – pliant for open-wheel driving. Ahead of the Carmax opening of its first luxury SUV last summer, scientists and conservationists warned that animal fur and leather contain byproducts of bovine protein, a toxic substance. So that leather makes its way into a production chain that requires mammoth amounts of energy and resources, it often migrates across the Atlantic Ocean in the Pacific Ocean, an invaluable natural road for cloth that looks like tree bark, not leather. The region known as the Bajos del Valles, a Unesco Biosphere Reserve, is where many spiny Chilean eucalyptus – which are an important trade in US denim and cargoes of leather goods bound for Europe – are grown. Many of these species are already listed as endangered by the Ecuadoran government due to population losses.

Read the full story: Amazon Loggers are Throwing Forest Destruction “To the Wind”

Leave a Comment