The Amazon Rainforest
An issue in the world today that is extremely troubling is the deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest. The world’s largest remaining natural resource is at risk of total destruction. This beautiful South American forest represents 40% of the continent and 54% of the total remaining rain forests that are left. It covers nine of the countries in South America which include Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Bolivia, Guyana, French Guiana and Suriname. From May 2000 to August 2006, approximately 150,000 square kilometers of the rain forest in Brazil was lost.
This is an area larger than the country of Greece. What is even more frightening is the fact that since 1970, over 232,000 square miles of the Amazon rainforest has been destroyed. The Amazon Rainforest is a tropical rainforest ecosystem. They are known to be found near the equator. What makes them known as “rain forests” refers to the moisture and humidity that they contain. These forests which are lush with trees and other amazing plant life have year-round warm temperatures with high humidity and heavy—almost daily rainfall.
It does not rain every day in the Amazon Rainforest but it does receive an average of nine feet of rain per year. The Rainforest of the world now only cover 2% of the globe, however ecologists do estimate they hold half of the world’s plant and animal species. R. A. N. is one of the organizations advocating for the Rain Forest to be left alone. It stands for the Rainforest Action Network. One of the issues that RAN has cites is that pulp from cleared rainforests is made into cheap copy paper, books, tissue and toilet paper and luxury shopping bags that are then sold to consumers in the United States, Europe and Asia.
RAN’s Rainforest-Free Paper Campaign is working against corporations and the Indonesian government to stop turning forests into paper plantations. They have made significant progress such as pressuring Boise Incorporated to stop buying wood fiber taken from the traditional territory of the Grassy Narrows. Shortly after, Abitibi Bowater, the largest paper company in the world, agreed to stay off of Grassy Narrows land. According to dictionary. com the definition of deforestation is, “the cutting down and removal of all or most of the trees in a forested area.
Deforestation can erode soils, contribute to desertification and the pollution of waterways, and decrease biodiversity through the destruction of habitat. ” Most rainforests are cleared by chainsaws, bulldozers and fires for its timber value and then are followed by farming and ranching operations. The latest statistics show that rainforest land which is made into cattle farms gets the land owner $60 per acre and if timber is harvested, the land is worth $400 per acre. Cattle ranching is the leading cause of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.
This has been going on since the 1970s. Approximately 38 percent of deforestation from 1966-1975 is due to large-scale cattle ranching. Unfortunately the present day situation may be even worse. According to the Center for International Forestry Research, “between 1990 and 2001 the percentage of Europe’s processed meat imports that came from Brazil rose from 40 to 74 percent and by 2003 for the first time ever, the growth in Brazilian cattle production—80 percent of which was in the Amazon—was largely export driven. This issue affects the tribes that still live in the Amazon Rainforest. These people and their ancestors have been living off of the land for thousands of years. Their culture is formed from the rainforest itself. There are even some tribes that have never had contact with any other person outside of their own tribe. If they are taken out of their homes over time they will lose their languages, art, tales and knowledge of the forest and past. There were an estimated ten million of these people living in the Amazonian Rainforest five centuries ago. Today there are less than 200,000.
Thousands upon thousands of species other than humans live in the rainforest such as bacteria, plants and mammals. Thousands of other species once existed in this ecosystem but due to deforestation and other causes, they are now extinct. There are estimations that 137 plant, animal and insect species go extinct every single day due to said deforestation. That means about 50,000 species are lost each year. As these species only found in the Amazon Rainforest leave this world, many possible cures for life-threatening diseases follow. There are presently 121 prescription drugs sold worldwide that come from Amazon plants.
A good 25% drugs that come from rainforest ingredients have tropical trees and plants of which less than 1% have been tested by licensed scientists. In the long run, the destruction of the rainforest will kill almost every living thing on the plants. According to www. amazon-rainforest. org, the Amazon Rainforest has been described as the “Lungs of our Planet. ” This is because it provides the essential environmental world service of continuously recycling carbon dioxide into oxygen. More than 20 percent of the world oxygen is produced in the Amazon Rainforest. The survival of the human race depends on the survival of the Amazon Rainforest.
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