RETELL: BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON THE AMAZON RAINFOREST AND OTHER RAINFORESTS
The Amazon rainforest is the world’s largest tropical rainforest. It covers approximately 2 million square miles in the Amazon River Basin of South America (Lyman 1998, 61) About two-thirds of the rainforest lies in Brazil. The forest also covers parts of Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Columbia, and Venezuela (Lyman 1998, 32) In the Amazon rainforest it contains a wider variety of plants and animal life than any other place in the world. It supports millions of plant, animal and insect species it is a virtual library of chemical invention.
Deforestation is a vital issue that is playing a great role all around the world today.
Deforestation robs the world of countless species, destroying crucial biodiversity and losing species with potential uses in medicine, agriculture, and industry. Over half of the world’s tropical rainforest is being destroyed, most of which are in Brazil, and they are continuing to be destroyed today (Silver 1998,11). The topic of rainforest destruction raises the thought of biodiversity and cures for cancer, both of these thoughts are very important reasons to end deforestation but it has not yet come to and end. Global climate and the greenhouse effect both have an impact on the atmosphere and as well as the biosphere. Due the rainforest it has found drugs for quinine, muscle relaxants, steroids and cancer drugs (Hadden 1995, 27).
Tropical forest are destroyed for several reasons, there is an increasing demand for both farm and grazing land which results in burning and clearing of the rainforest for agriculture production.
Unbelievably over 200,000 acres of rainforest is burned every day in the world ( Silver 1998, 29). Another reason of deforestation is the continued urbanization of the world and the need for construction of roads and industrialization. The need for fuel and timber for construction is another major factor leading to the destruction of the rainforest (Hadden 1995,45).
Deforestation has serious effects on the planet. These effects have negative consequences on the Earth’s biosphere, the biodiversity of the planet, and greatly threatened the physical survival of people who heavily rely on the forest. Effects of deforestation are too great to continue destroying the forest.
Deforestation by burning lets out carbon dioxide, which accounts for at least half of the greenhouse effect, in which atmospheric gases, mostly produced by human activities, trap the sun’s heat, slowly warming the Earth. At least three-quarters of deforestation in the tropics are due to burning, which release about 2.4 billion tones of CO 2 into the atmosphere each year
( Lyman 1998, 16). The greenhouse effect will have several affects on the Earth. One problem is that it will cause a rise in sea levels due to the melting of glaciers. This could cause frequent flooding.
Also greenhouse gases can also have an affect on climate change which can also affect the future agriculture (Silver 1998, 32). Also some studies have showed that there may be a decrease in rainfall and an increase in surface temperature. In the rainforest the trees protect the soil against erosion and reduce the risks of landslides and avalanches. Soil erosion then leads to greater amounts of run off and increases sedimentation in the rivers and streams. Besides, protecting the soil from erosion, the trees create a canopy that regulates how much rainfall and sunlight reaches the rainforests floor (Hadden 1995,22). When trees are cleared high sunlight and heavy rainfall quickly damages the topsoil.
Tragically, rainforests once covered 14% of the earth’s land surface. Now they cover 6%. In less than 50 years, more than half of the world’s rainforest has been burnt down with fire and cut down with chain saws (Silver 1998, 44). Experts claim that the current rate of destruction, the last remaining forests could be consumed in less than 40 years. Experts also claim that they are losing approximately 130 species of plants, animals and insects every single day as they become extinct from the loss of rainforest land and habitats. How many possible cures to devastating diseases have we already lost?
This project has made me realize the true value of how important our rainforest and any other forest is to our planet.
I have learned a great .