Describe and explain why the rainforest is being destroyed and what the effects of this are?

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The rainforest in South America is a vital resource but it is being destroyed at a rate of 1/2 a million trees an hour. In this essay I aim to investigate why this is happening and the long term effects of it.

Clearances for farming and ranching are being made but, without the knowledge that the natives have, they are being done in an unsustainable way.

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First, they remove the trees and burn them hoping to enhance the fertilization of the land. Secondly, grass seed is sown. In time the soil becomes infertile so the farmers either move or expand their land destroying even more forest. This continues in a circular pattern; neither forest nor farmer benefit.

Underneath the rainforest many minerals are found. Mining companies start to mine for these, but when these run out the companies abandon the mine leaving a large, ugly scar in the rainforest.

Commercial use of the river also destroys the rainforest. To provide energy for all the mines and farms etc. the river is dammed. In doing so it destroys millions of trees, killing animals which have made their homes in the vegetation and surrounding area. With the decomposing bodies of animals, the water soon becomes toxic and unsafe for human consumption. This directly affects the natives who use the water for drinking, washing and cleaning. Widespread rainforest clearance, mining of minerals and damming of rivers all affect the rainforest and most importantly the quality of soil.

When trees are stripped away the soil’s natural fertilization pattern is also destroyed: the soil becomes infertile very quickly. This means that rainforest that was once there can never be grown again. It is lost forever. The river water soon becomes polluted with toxins and also from the chemical waste from industries. The dam becomes clogged with sediment from the mines. Most of the wild life is killed when the trees are felled and the rivers dammed. The native people are pushed out of their homes by big businesses expanding the vast amounts of land they already have.

A massive infrastructure project known as “Avanca Brasil” (Advance Brazil) threatens the very existence of the Amazon rainforest. The proposed project will upgrade and construct new roads into the interior of the Amazon basin; facilitating increased logging, mining and settlement. The project is likely to ensure final loss of the World’s largest rainforest.

Unchecked de-forestation and destruction of the Amazonian rainforest poses an ecological disaster both for Brazil and the rest of the world. With less rainforest to absorb CO2, there is a build up of CO2 in the atmosphere. This creates a “blanket” which traps more outgoing long-wave radiation causing the earth to warm up. This is known as “global warming”. Therefore de-forestation affects not only the natives but all of mankind.

The issue of de-forestation is global in another context: capitalisation. For example, the cleared grassland may be used to raise cattle to supply beef for McDonalds. The impact of large capitalist, multi-national companies like McDonalds (also mineral and pharmaceutical industries) cannot be underestimated.

Sustainability is a priority if we want to keep the rainforest. Sustainable farming methods, like those of the natives, should be used. Mining should be kept to a minimum and roads should be small and few. Logging should only be allowed in a sustainable way ensuring that new trees are planted to replace those which have been felled; the new trees must be planted within a certain amount of time before the fertilisation of the soil is lost. These simple steps should ensure that the small amount of existing rainforest remains.