This largely depends on the part of the world in question. The beef industry has long been and continues to be one of the worst contributors to deforestation in many Central and South American countries, such as Brazil. 60-70% of the deforestation in Brazil, for example, is caused by the cattle industry. In other parts of the world, however, there are different forces leading to most of the deforestation that occurs. For instance in Indonesia, which may now be clearing its forests faster than any other country in the world, the main contributors to deforestation are logging (much of it illegal) and the expansion of palm oil plantations. Indonesia’s forests contain many trees useful to the timber industry, and the country’s land laws make it relatively easy for agribusiness companies to turn forests and traditional farmlands into plantations for oil palm – the palm oil produced is used as both a food ingredient and a biofuel. Central and South America, on the other hand, have long been in a good position to provide the US market with beef, which has helped expand the cattle industry there. So exactly what contributes to the most deforestation depends on the part of the world and the specific economic and political conditions there.
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