deforestation

Topics: Amazon Rainforest, Rainforest, Brazil Pages: 5 (789 words) Published: October 13, 2014


Deforestation is the loss or destruction of naturally occurring forests. It is primarily due to human activities such as cutting trees for fuel, slash-and-burn agriculture, clearing land for livestock grazing, oil extraction, and many others. Deforestation is considered to be one of the contributing factors to global climate change. It can occur around the world, even though it’s more common in tropical rainforests. Countries with significant deforestation currently or in the recent years include Brazil, Indonesia, Thailand, and parts of Eastern Europe. Though deforestation has increased rapidly in the last fifty years, it has been known to be practiced through history.

Deforestation is typically done to make more land available for housing and urbanization and cattle ranching. Most of the logging industry that contributes to deforestation is done illegally, as reports from the World Wildlife Fund state. Common methods include burning trees and clear cutting, which is the controversial practice of complete removal of a given area of forest.

In Brazil, you will find the Amazon rainforest. It is 5.7 million square kilometers and the largest continuous rainforest in the entire world. Since 1970, one sixth of the Amazon has been cleared mainly for ethanol production and cattle. While techniques like slash-and-burn provide a short term boost in agricultural production, rainforest soil is typically very thin and does not support this type of agriculture over the long term. Michigan State University professor and expert on land use change in the Brazilian Amazon, Robert Walker, said that “probably 80 to 90 percent of all cleared land in the region is attributable to some form of pasture or ranching.

Brazil has historically had the distinction of serving as the world’s leader for deforestation. During the last three decades, an annual average of 6,500 square miles of the Brazilian Amazon has been deforested. Satellite data indicates that the rate of Amazonian deforestation is accelerating. In some areas, the rate increased by 50 percent since last year, and with about a 600 percent increase in 60 years, more trees are being destroyed to make room for cattle ranches.

The Amazon, being the largest rainforest in the world, houses a very large collection of living species of plants and animals. It also plays a significant role in stabilizing local climate and may provide materials to cures for some diseases. But deforestation has transformed the Amazon into ground zero for global extinction. Plus, burning trees releases carbon dioxide, which contributes greatly to climate change. After all, Brazil is the overall fifth largest emitter of carbon dioxide.

There are various ways we can save the Amazon rainforest. These are rehabilitation and increased productivity of formerly forested lands, expansion of protection areas, development based on concepts of sustainable use of some existing forest, land policy reform and law enforcement. By reducing the loss of tropical rainforests, we must not only be concerned with the transformation of existing natural ecosystems, but also the national utilization of already cleared and degraded areas. For future forest loss to lessen, we need to increase and start the productivity of farms, pastures, and plantations in addition to restoring species and ecosystems to degraded habitats.

The extension of protection to critically important habitats within the Amazon region is key to maximizing survival of biodiversity in Brazil. This can happen by prioritizing areas for protection, ensuring sufficient enforcement agencies, funding for the maintenance of protected areas, encouraging the involvement of locals, and involving indigenous people in park management, since they know more about the forest than anyone else.

One of the best ways to address deforestation in Brazil is by developing a new conservation policy based on the principle sustainable use and development of rainforests....
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