They are home to millions of animals and are located all over the world. They contain vital medicines and supply the majority of oxygen that is found in the atmosphere. Rainforests are one of the natural wonders of the world. However, they are enticing as they produce lucrative materials, as well as containing large amounts of unclaimed spaces. Many of these temptations are too much for people as about 18 million acres of forest are cut down every year (Rinkesh). Recently, rainforests have encountered more trouble than ever, as people try to exploit the materials found within.
Though many may not see the importance of rainforests in lives today, they are essential to the lives of animals existing there, as well as our own. One of the rainforests that is in the most danger is the Amazon Rainforest. Since 1978, more than 750,000 square kilometers has been deforested (Rhett Butler). Though there may be many different reasons, a few are more prevalent than others. Overall, cattle ranching is responsible for about 70% of all deforestation in the Amazon.
The next biggest threat is commercial and small agriculture, which represents about 25% of all deforestation, and the remaining 5% is illegal logging and fires (Rhett Butler). The majority of all Amazon clearing is found in a part that is known as the “Arc of Deforestation. This area is located in the Southern and Eastern Amazon. The INPE(National Institute for Space Research) is an organization that performs annual assessments of the Amazon clearing, and communicates the results with law enforcement.
In their first annual assessment they calculated that in the year 1989 alone, more than 21,000 square kilometers of deforestation had taken place, majority of it being in the “Arc” (Jeff Tollefson). They have also found that since the 20th century, majority of all deforestation has been driven by industrial activity. Illegal loggers and land speculators drive this activity by clearing land to sell to companies or selling illegal lumber. Levels of deforestation have seen cut backs as more efforts are instituted, however these efforts are still not enough to save the rainforest.
In the last 40 years, 18% of the Amazon Rainforest has been cleared, which is roughly the size of California (GreenpeaceUsa). Calculations have taken place and is estimated that in 100 years, if deforestation rates stay the same, rainforests in general may start to disappear (Rinkesh). If total deforestation were to take place, the world would see catastrophic changes in climate and oxygen levels in the atmosphere. With 20% of the oxygen in the world produced in the Amazon alone(Rinkesh), the world would lose the majority of the oxygen producers it has, resulting in dramatic consequences.
In 2005 a drought took place in the Amazon that lowered river levels 40 feet (Wallace). Though there had been previous droughts, this specific drought brought the attention of many scientists and activists. The consequences brought by deforestation will not only affect humans, but also the animals that live in the ecosystems provided by rainforests. The Amazon is home to about 10% of animals in the world (GreenpeaceUsa). Many of these animals are displaced when cattle-ranchers and illegal loggers clear large amounts of forest. With no place to go, many of these animals will die.
The Amazon is not only home to animals, but humans as well. The Amazon is reportedly home to about 24 million people, majority of them being indigenous peoples (GreenpeaceUsa), with no other place to go, they will head into the already crowded cities of Brazil or other areas in South America. With all the impacts of deforestation being discovered, scientists and other groups such as the IPNE are left with the task of how to solve and eliminate deforestation.
A group called the IBAMA, which is environmental protection service of Brazil, is currently one of he only groups acting upon deforestation. With only a handful of inspectors to cover thousands of square miles of territory, the IBAMA has major trouble protecting and defending the Amazon Region(Wallace). However, the group has seen some major victories, taking out various grilleros, or illegal land grabbers. In 2004, a group of angry protesters burned down the headquarters of the IBAMA( Wallace). Left with very little materials and equipment and tasked to protect the massive Amazon Region, the IBAMA struggles to keep up with the constant threats and attacks on the Amazon.
One possible way to protect the Amazon would be to increase the security of the IBAMA and other similar groups. In completing this, hopefully the groups can spread out more evenly to protect the Amazon. One of the many major drivers of deforestation is the illegal logging business. What drives the loggers however, is the demand, major corporations. The price of lumber is expensive and too expensive for many major companies. In order to get around the prices, many companies will purchase illegal lumber. Another possible solution is to try and convince corporations to enforce or develop a no deforestation policy.
Essentially what this will do is force illegal lumber mills to go out of business and in return deforestation rate will slow. If companies refuse, a team of investigators will expose them to the general public. This could cause boycotts on the particular business and hopefully the company will clean up where they receive the materials from. A third possible solution is to expose restaurants who purchase illegal cattle from Amazon Regions. 70% of the Amazon deforestation is cleared for cattle ranchers(Rhett Butler).
If a group were to be able to find where restaurants receive their beef from, then this can encourage the restaurant to stop buying from their particular provider. The solution with the greatest chance of making some sort of impact is be solution number two, stopping illegal lumber. Illegal logging is near impossible to catch, once the lumber leaves the mill, experts have a difficult time finding where it came from(Dawn Bickett). Illegal logging is a 100 billion dollar industry worldwide. Majority of these loggers go for the rare or exotic wood which many companies want.
However, many of these rare or exotic woods are found only in areas containing indigenous people(“Logging Rainforest Foundation”). With logging rates as they are, experts are discovering that these illegal practices are stripping the economic livelihoods of surrounding communities(WWF). This occurs when loggers sell more and more wood to outside buyers, then in return less and less money is finding its back into the local areas. In result these communities are entering poverty. The way to cut off communication between buyer and producer is to show the buyer alternative ways to obtain the materials they need.
If the buyer learns about the eco friendly way of making the material they need, hopefully the buyer will switch to form a more eco friendly policy. However, in order to achieve what is necessary in changing companies to become more eco friendly, a team of investigators would be needed. The team will look into the origins of where the materials are from and inform the company. After this the team will introduce new friendly ways of making the same product. Then the team will help the company to create a new no deforestation policy, where the company does not buy illegal lumber from any illegal lumber mills.
In 2000, the UK introduced a policy requiring all departments to “actively seek” to buy timber from legal and well-managed sources(Greenpeace/Cobbing). This is one example of policies that many various nations have instituted, however this particular policy broke apart once private investigations found illegal lumber on government construction sites. If more nations could introduce policies like that of the UK, then deforestation would being to fall. From solving the issue of deforestation, animals habitats will remain untouched, more medicines will be discovered, and overall air quality will improve.
The Amazon Rainforest is just one forest falling victim to deforestation, without these all important forests pollution levels will rise and erosion will occur. Deforestation needs to be stopped, not only for the animals living there but also for our own sake. Humanity needs to be finding new eco friendly ways of producing the materials they need. Without rainforests the world will change for the worse, but people have the power to stop the evils occurring in forest areas and can make a difference in the world today.