At least 42 million acres of tropical forest are lost each year, an area the size of Washington State. This equals about 100 acres a minute.
An estimated 50,000 species of plants and animals, mostly plants and invertebrates and mostly in the tropics, are condemned to extinction every year, an average of about 140 a day. The forests of today are comprised of 50% boreal (mainly northern conifers), 44% tropical and 3% temperate areas. Most of the original temperate forests have been cleared so the land can be used for farming and other development. The majority of the remaining forest that can be preserved is found in Russia, Canada and Brazil
The most concrete success pointed to by the government is that the rate of the Amazon's destruction fell in the 1990s to average levels around 4.5 million acres from more than 5 million acres in the 1980s. That is equivalent to about the size of Rhode Island. But 86 percent of original Amazon still stands. Experts estimates that we are losing 137 plant, animal and insect species every single day due to rainforest deforestation. That equates to 50,000 species a year. As the rainforest species dissapear, so do many possible cures for life-threatening diseases. Currently, 121 prescription drugs sold worldwide come from plant-derived sources. While 25% of Western pharmaceuticals are derived from rainforest ingredients, less that 1% of these tropical trees and plants have been tested by scientists.
There were an estimated ten million Indians living in the Amazonian Rainforest five centuries ago. Today there are less than 200,000.
The Amazon Rainforest has been described as the "Lungs of our Planet" because it provides the essential environmental world service of continuously recyling carbon dioxide into oxygen. More than 20 percent of the world oxygen is produced in the Amazon Rainforest.
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