Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 325–338 | Cite as

Amazonian forest loss and the long reach of China’s influence

  • Philip M. Fearnside
  • Adriano M. R. Figueiredo
  • Sandra C. M. Bonjour


This paper explores China’s role in deforestation in Latin America. Brazil’s Amazon region contains vast natural resources including land, timber, minerals and hydroelectric potential. China’s strong economy and large demands relative to domestic supplies of these resources mean that China has become Brazil’s largest trading partner, primarily for natural resources. The paper examines how China influences deforestation in Brazilian Amazonia in a variety of ways, including through the direct influence of Chinese enterprises through land purchases and other mechanisms. This paper finds that the rapid rise in exports of soy and beef products to China are two of the major drivers of Amazonian deforestation in Brazil. The paper further argues that Chinese purchases of agricultural and forest land and Chinese imports of commodities such as timber and aluminum also cause environmental impacts in Amazonia. Chinese financing and investment in Amazonian infrastructure such as railways and mineral processing facilities have additional impacts.


Amazonia Brazil China Deforestation Soybeans 



The first author thanks Conselho Nacional do Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq: Proc. 304020/2010-9, 610042/2009-2, 575853/2008-5) and Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (INPA: PRJ13.03) for financial support. We thank two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip M. Fearnside
    • 1
  • Adriano M. R. Figueiredo
    • 2
  • Sandra C. M. Bonjour
    • 2
  1. 1.Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia-INPAManausBrazil
  2. 2.Faculdade de Economia da Universidade Federal de Mato GrossoCuiabáBrazil

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