Environmental Issue: Tropical Rainforest Deforestation

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In all rainforest regions in the world, deforestation has become a major problem. The rainforest is arguably the most complicated and largely interwoven ecosystem on land. However, this treasure is being lost and demolished day by day, the land being cleared away for the pure interest of money making, in the process of deforestation. Not only are thousands of species of organisms being driven to extinction, but we are also effectively eliminating any chance of studying many of the species. Also, deforestation has a major impact on the atmospheric balance of the world, and if it continues at the rate it is now, then soon the world's entire way of living will be forced to change, and not for the good. If the people of the world do not begin to be more contentious, then soon rainforests will become nothing more than a glorious legend of the past.

Rainforest deforestation is the term for cutting down trees, or entirely clearing away patches of the rainforest. Though this may seem to be a rather tedious process, but many decades of experience has taught people well on the different methods of deforestation. There are six main ways that rainforest deforestation occurs. In deciding which method to use, one must consider what the cleared space would be used for. For example, for a farmer who intends to clear some forest for the purpose of planting, he may either use the "slash and burn" method, or prepare the land for "Perennial shade" planting. The "slash and burn" method, which entails cutting down vegetation, and then burning the debris, is one that is used by those who wish to enrich the soils with minerals, and thereby produce more fertile soils for planting. "Perennial shade" method is one which leaves the tall, canopy trees to provide shade for the plants that cannot stand extreme sunlight, such as the major cash crop of coffee. Another method that does not completely destroy the area being deforested is called "selective logging." This is a method that is most likely used mainly for the gathering of timber. Just like its name, using "selective logging" simply means that the persons involved choose only a few specific trees to cut down. There is a bit of controversy concerning this method of deforestation, because when a large tree is felled, it is inevitable that it will harm or damage the surrounding trees, more so if the tree being felled is larger than its neighbors. Some argue that all this trouble and extra damage is not worth the outcome of only one tree. "Clear-cut logging" is when an entire area's trees are cut down, leaving behind no stumps or vegetation, only the ground. On these newly cleared areas, people will often establish fruit plantations, which obliterate the soil's nutrient reserves and disturb the natural systems of water distribution. The last, and perhaps most potent means of not only rainforest deforestation, but driving rainforest areas to ruin, is using the completely cleared forest area as a place to graze cattle. Cattle grazing is responsible for nearly 72% of the entire world's rainforest deforestation. The reason for this is, once designated cattle grazing land is established, it can only be used for about two years before the soil is too depleted of nutrients for further use. Once this has come about, the only thing left to do is clear another chunk of rainforest for a new grazing land. So, it is apparent that no matter what the reason, rainforests all over the world have fallen victim to the world's unappeasable thirst for food and cash crops, and indifference to the consequences to their actions.

All rainforests around the world give housing to an amazingly wide spectrum of organisms. Out of the Earth's entire land mass, only 6% is made up of by rainforests. This number, compared to when it originally covered nearly 14% of the earth's landmass, shows how drastically the rainforest has been minimized. It is estimated that in about 40 years, the last...
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