Deforestation of the Amazon:
Causes, Effects and Possible Solutions
Geography 101, Section 040
6 December 2012
This paper explores the causes, effects and possible solutions of the deforestation of the Amazon Forest. It is important to understand why more than 580,000 square kilometers of Amazon forest has been destroyed in Brazil since 1980 (Rhett Butler 2012). The main topics of this paper, in order to fully explore the issue at hand, will include: 1. What is Deforestation?
2. What Are the Major Causes of Deforestation in the Amazon? 3. What are the Effects of Deforestation on the Amazon and it’s People?
Deforestation of the Amazon: Causes, Effects and Possible Solutions What is Deforestation?
Edward Bergman and William Renwick in their text Introduction to Geography: People, Places, and Environment (2008) define deforestation as the clear-cutting of forest (p. 138). Rhett Butler (2012) observed that in 1995, the worst year ever recorded for deforestation of the Amazon, over 29,000 square kilometers of land were accounted for as deforested. Even with the slightly slowing rates of deforestation since 1995, it is still proceeding at a rate of only a little less than 30,000 square kilometers per year (0.6%). An area about the size of Texas (650,000 square kilometers) had been deforested by 2000 (Bergman & William Renwick, 2008 p. 138). What Are the Major Causes of Deforestation in the Amazon?
Butler (2012) and Perfecto and John Vandermeer (2005) give detailed reports of the major causes of deforestation in the Amazon that include the following: • Cattle-ranching
• Colonization and subsequent agriculture
Large-scale cattle ranching currently accounts for approximately 60% of deforestation according to Brazils National Institute for Space Research and Agricultural Research Corp, INP/ Embrapa (2011). This is due to Brazil being one of the world’s largest exporters and producers of beef. Currently the Amazon holds more than 80 million heads of cattle in over 214,000 square miles of pasture, an open space larger than France (Butler 2012). Cattle-ranching is beneficial to those with a few heads of cattle and no money since land tenure laws allow for ownership of land that is cleared and occupied with cattle or agriculture. It is also a low risk investment since beef and leather are always in demand for exportation and the land that has already been pasteurized are more valuable than forest that must be cleared (Butler 2012).
Colonization is becoming a bigger problem as time progresses and more people in poverty move to the Amazon where they can start a new life working for the various industrial projects that have moved further into the Amazon. The recent burst of human life in the Amazon, a population quickly approaching 25 million, as well the array of new industrial projects transforming the Amazon into one of Brazil’s fastest growing regions has caused fear among scientists (Romero 2012). Colonization, especially ones at this scale, puts a high demand and pressure on the resources of the forest. From 2000 to 2010 the 10 largest Amazonian cities have increased by 22% reaching 1.7 million people while Brazil, as a whole, has increased by 12% (Romero 2012). Romero (2012) suggests that “[m]ore population leads to more deforestation”. I agree because, simply, the more people that occupy the forest, the less forest there is. It also leads to an increase in forest fires due to the slash and burn technique that is used by most people to clear the land. In addition, the more people there are the more roads and pathways are made to go further into the Amazon leading to further deforestation. Roads provide access to logging and mining sites while opening forest to exploitation of illegal loggers and poor landless farmers. As mentioned above, one of the factors pushing...
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