Tropical rainforests and their vulnerability
The Threats and Losses:
- Rainforests once covered 14 percent of the Earth's land surface, now they
cover 6 percent and experts estimate that the last remaining rainforests
could be consumed in less than 40 years.
- Globally 2.4 (1 hectare) acres of rainforest have been destroyed every
second... it is the equivalent of two US football fields put together.
- 149 acres (60 hectares) have been destroyed a minute.
- 214,000 acres (86,000) per day: an area larger than NYC.
- 78 million acres (31 million hectares per year: an area larger than
- In Brazil an estimation of 5.4 million acres have been destroyed per
year. (estimate averaged for period 1979-1990)
- Rainforests are being destroyed because the value of this land is
perceived as only the value of it's timber by short sighted governments,
multi-national logging companies and land owners.
- Commercial logging => teak, mahogany, rosewood etc.... for furniture,
building materials, charcoal for big businesses and big profits. Comaines:
Texaco, Mitsubishi corp. Unocoal...
- Governments and their development of natural resources. control 805 of
- National debt=> World Bank
- Logging rainforest timber => $$large economic resource
- Composition of the soil, nutrients are locked up in the trees, less than
10% of the Amazonian soils are suitable for agriculture.
- subsistence farming
- "squatter's rights"
- cattle ranching
- oil extraction
- hydroelectric dams
- The loss of tropical rainforests may lead to devastating world impact,
rainforests are so biologically diverse
- Consider this.
- A single pond in Brazil can sustain a greater variety of fish than are
found in all of Europe's rivers;
- over 2000 species of fish have been identified in the Amazon Basin -
more species than the entire Atlantic ocean.
- a 25 acre plot of rainforest in Borneo may contain over 700 species of
trees - a number equal to the total tree diversity of North America.
- A single rainforest reserve in Peru is home to more species of birds
than the entire United States.
- One single tree in Peru was found to harbor 43 different species of
ants - a total that approximates the entire species of the British
- The biodiversity of the tropical rainforest e.g.: less than 1% of its
millions of species have been studied by scientists for possible uses by
man. Scientific experts estimate loss of 137 species of plants, animals and
- consequences are air/water pollution, soil erosion, malaria epidemics,
release of carbon dioxide, eviction of tribes, loss of bio-diversity and of
species becoming extinct.
- Carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere from fires and rotting vegetation
may lead to an increase in global warming.
Author: Gillian S.