Commercial logging is the single most important factor for Amazon rainforest deforestation, followed by cattle grazing and other reasons we will review shortly...
Amazon rainforest is disappearing at an alarming rate, and the same applies for all the remaining rainforests in the world. Once they covered 14% of earth's surface, now only 6%. Experts estimate they could disappear within 40 years.
Amazon rainforest alone is vanishing at a rate of 200,000 square miles a year - out of 2,5 million square miles, embracing nine South America countries or 2/3s of the continent.
Logging tropical hardwoods for exportation (teak, mahogany, etc) as well as other timber for furnitures, ply wood, etc , followed by other wood-related industries such as chipboard and cardboard. In addition, the paper industry requires a massive amount of pulpwood trees. In order to satisfy the world's demand, more and more of the rainforest is burned to the ground and replanted with pulpwood trees.
Ranchers need more pastures for their livestock. It is estimated that to raise one steer consumes two acres of the rainforest. Amazon rainforest covers 1,2 billion acres - 200,000 of them are burned every day at a rate of at least one per second.
Grazing land degrades fast due to the lack of gradients and overgrazing, which means new rainforest land needs to be obtained to satisfy their needs.
It is estimated that less than 10% rainforest land is suitable for conventional agriculture. Soon gets exhausted after 3 or 4 crops due to its poor-gradients condition and the lack of sustainable cultivation practices.
As a consequence, farmers move deeper into the rainforest in search of new, fresh land. Soybeam is the largest crop.
Since the 1970s, more than 9,000 miles of road have been built through the rainforest, endangering the environment as well as the lives of native Amazon tribes.
Dams have an impact on the local wildlife, affecting migratory fish and the Amazon Pink river dolphin for instance, and threaten the environment.
The Gold Rush in Brazil started in the 1980s, when gold was discovered in Sierra Pelada. Some 250,000 miners lived and worked in terrible conditions. There is a remarkable photo reportage done on the subject by Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado.
To pursue mining operations, tons of mercury are released to the environment, causing irreparable damage to rivers, vegetation and animals.
We need each and every one of us to take a stand and do our bit. Simple and easy steps to help preserve the rainforest...
buy only sustainable and environmentally friendly products
keep our homes and cars as carbon neutral as possible
not to waste energy
help to create a market and demand for sustainable rainforest products
exercise our rights as citizens. A simple No!...would suffice at times
As Harvard's Pulitzer Prize-winning biologist Edward O. Wilson wrote more than a decade ago...
"The worst thing that can happen during the 1980s is not energy depletion, economic collapses, limited nuclear war, or conquest by a totalitarian government.
As terrible as these catastrophes would be for us, they can be repaired within a few generations. The one process ongoing in the 1980s that will take millions of years to correct is the loss of genetic and species diversity by the destruction of natural habitats.
This is the folly that our descendants are least likely to forgive us for."