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Martina Schneider, Liz Goldman, Mikaela Weisse, Luiz Amaral and Luiz Calado


11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Social Studies, Biology, English Language Arts

Resource Type

  • Articles and Websites

Regional Focus

South and Central America

Soy Production's Impact on Forests in South America

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  • This article details how soy and livestock production in South America is negatively impacting specific forest ecosystems on the continent. 
  • Students will learn the specifics about the effects of soy farming in South America and the steps that have been (or could be) taken to limit deforestation.
Teaching Tips


  • This article is incredibly detailed and features several charts and graphs to further illustrate the points in the text. 
  • Students will be able to see the connection between agricultural expansion and deforestation with specific examples. 

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should be able to read bar graphs and may benefit from looking at the interactive map of deforestation linked in the article to locate the areas discussed.
  • Access to the Internet is required to read the article.


  • Connections can be made in math classes using real-world data to strengthen their lessons about graphing, data analysis, or reading stacked bar graphs.
  • This resource is dense enough that it would work well for a jigsaw activity. Assign each section to a group of students and have them present their section to the class.
  • Science or social studies classes can use this article as an example of direct connections between human activities, deforestation, and climate change.
  • As an extension, have students use the interactive map resource linked in the article to explore deforestation in another country or region and then write a report or present their findings to the class.
Scientist Notes
This resource presents a broad analysis of the impact of soy production on forests across South America. Soy production can lead to the direct cutting of forests, but soy is often planted on recently deforested land that pastured cattle use for several years. This resource provides an in-depth look at a variety of biomes and nations all across South America. The most engaging feature of this resource is the link to the Global Forest Watch Interactive World Forest Map, which allows students to visualize how forests are shrinking and soy planted area is growing in sensitive ecosystems. This resource is informative, features several peer-reviewed sources for further study, and is recommended for teaching.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-1. Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.
      • HS-ESS3-4. Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • HS-LS2-6. Evaluate claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem.
      • HS-LS2-7. Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.
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