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Destruction of the Rainforest

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Effects of Deforestation




               Deforestation is not a recent occurrence. It has been occurring for a century or more now. Soon in less than 100 years if the deforestation rate continues at its current pace there will no longer be any rainforests left. Major industries and countries have used the rainforests for agriculture and profit. They started logging the rainforest for industrial purposes a couple centuries ago. Humans use a slash and burn technique which richens the soil. This happening began about a century ago. They burn down acres and acres for farming land that only lasts 3 to 5 years. Then the soil becomes infertile and farmers burn down more of the rainforest.


Reasons and Causes of Deforestation


            The economy today is cutting down to much of the rainforest. They have been doing this more than a century now. We call this economic issue deforestation. If the same rate of deforestation continues than all of the rainforests will be cut down in 100 years. This could cause a huge global climate change which would eliminate most of the animal and plant species that live within the rainforest.

            There are many forms and reasons for deforestation. Most of the deforestation is caused by humans cutting and burning the forest for agriculture purposes. They call this technique ‘slash and burn’. This technique also helps add nutrients to the soil. After about 3 or 5 years the soil becomes infertile so the humans move on. Humans cut down and burn about 2.47 acres per second. They cut down around 80,000 acres per year.

            Another major cause for deforestation is logging. Logging is a major business but it also causes deforestation. Worldwide logging causes about 75% of the forests. Another major cause for deforestation is cattle ranching, especially in Central and Southern America.  2/3 of the rainforest has been turned into these cattle grazing farms.


Long term and short term effects


There are many short and long term effects caused by deforestation.  These effects will be tremendously harmful.  Some effects are loss of animals, plants and other living organisms.  It will also disturb peoples whose lives are based on and around tropical forest. Another large scale effect is the change in climate.

The long term effects are climate change and loss of biodiversity.  Climate change occurs due to an increase of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.  Trees and other vegetation consume carbon dioxide and produce oxygen.  When trees die and rot they produce carbon dioxide.   When there is a decrease in live trees, there is no way of controlling the amount of carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere.  An increase in carbon dioxide will increase the temperature of the earth and will therefore alter the weather.  Biodiversity is the variation of different types of life.  Large forests contain many types of animals and plants and other species.  Deforestation ruins the habitat of the animals and plants causing them to die or move deeper into the forests. There is 70% to 90% biodiversity in the forest and if deforestation keeps up with the rate it is going, many plants and animal s will die. Because we are destroying plants and animals we could be destroying cures and medicines to many diseases our world faces.


The short term effects


Flooding is caused because the remaining trees and vegetation are unable to soak up all the rain water, a tropical forest must be thick with vegetation or else it will flood.  Erosion occurs because when trees are cut down the rain washes away some of the nutrients from the soil. Also without vegetation the sun will heat the soil, and when it reaches 25 Celsius, it will loose some nutrients through evaporation.  The loss of nutrients makes it difficult for vegetation to grow.


Legislative Laws


The healthy forest restoration act of 2003 was passed by President Bush. This law helps prevent needless destruction of forests.

In June of 2003, two U.S. representatives ( Jay Inslee), Sherwood Boehlert  re-introduced a  law called the National Forest Road less Area Conservation Act .  This law protects forests from mining, drilling or logging.

In 1989 there was a petition sent to the UN to stop deforestation. This petition had 3 million signatures. This was made by the World Rainforest Movement. It was put down by the UN.

The Brazilian army has joined forces with the environmental ministry to stop or at least slow down illegal deforestation in the Amazon. There will be many road blocks put in to stop some machinery. Also 100 soldiers and 20 helicopters will be used to help move around the environment agents.


Steps taken on deforestation


There have been certain steps that have been taken to stop deforestation. There was a program that was launched in 1985 to stop deforestation called The Tropical Forest Action Plan (TFAP). This project did not work at all.


            What should be done to one region is not what should be done in another tropical forest region. For emphasizing community based tolerable agroforestry would probably work in Guinea but not in Brazil.


            What is being done is much different. There have been laws and policies on deforestation. But these really don’t work so well. There has also been a bunch of groups that try to stop or even reverse deforestation. Some of them might have made a little differnce but not enough. Some even made it worse and increased deforestation rates. Also other programs have planted millions of trees. Also Brazil has put aside tracts of a forest about the size of MA where deforestation is prohibited.

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