Skip to main content
University of Wisconsin–Madison

Using Data Science to Help Transform Global Supply Chains and Make Progress in Saving the Amazon Rainforest

This project will create a data repository that maps cattle supply chains in the Brazilian Amazon and helps drive research on deforestation and new approaches for forest conservation. Brazil is home to the world’s largest rainforest and second largest cattle herd. Agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation in the world, and contributes to global problems such as climate change and rapid loss of biodiversity.

In response to concerns over deforestation, major global companies have committed to eliminate farmers involved in deforestation from their supply chains. However, research shows that cattle are often moved among several ranches over their lifespan and companies are not able to trace these movements. While databases exist that provide information on millions of cattle transactions involving thousands of properties in Brazil, along with two decades worth of annual deforestation maps, these data are not linked.

The merged database this project creates closes this gap and solves this puzzle to allow companies to track the buying and selling transactions involving any given animal, map all of the ranches that the animal has moved through, and assess deforestation on them. While the project explores the Brazilian Amazon, the project outcome is applicable to other regions and will have applicability beyond the cattle sector.



Holly Gibbs, Associate Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies



Lisa Rausch, Associate Researcher, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

AnHai Doan, Professor of Computer Science



Matt Christie, Research Specialist, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies


Jake Munger, Assistant Researcher, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies