1 Introduction</h5> Amazon forests encompass the largest continuous blocks of low-latitude forest ecosystems in the world, harbor 10% of all known species, and hold an estimated 15-years worth of global CO 2 emissions ( Houghton et al., 2001 ). Conversion of forests to pasture, however, has accelerated over the last four decades ( Nepstad et al., 2006 ). Rapid degradation has eroded ecosystem functions, and habitat loss and fragmentation have increased vulnerability to edge effects and biodiversity loss ( Barlow et al., 2012; Fearnside, 2005; Laurance et al., 2006 ).</P>Two contrasting hypotheses have emerged to explain conversion from forest to pasture in Amazonia. The hamburger connection proposed low-cost beef production for fast food drove the decline of Central American forests ( Myers, 1981 ). Demand for beef promotes forest loss by making cattle ranching profitable. Relatively low start-up costs and institutional support for cattle ranching make cattle ranching attractive ( Gomes et al., 2012; Murphy et al., 1997; Van Ausdal, 2009 ), and the perennial demand for beef promotes cattle ranching and ultimately causes deforestation ( Kaimowitz et al., 2004; McAlpine et al., 2009 ).</P>The land-as-wealth hypothesis highlights legal and fiscal policies that enhance the value of cattle
Biological Conservation – Elsevier
Published: Feb 1, 2014
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