Why is The Amazon Rainforest being destroyed? What is this?

Why is The Amazon Rainforest being destroyed? The ever-growing human consumption and population is the biggest cause of forest destruction due to the vast amounts of resources, products, services we take from it.

Half the world’s rainforests have been destroyed in a century, at this rate you could see them vanish altogether in your lifetime! We must take action so that these forests, its plants and animals and us humans who depend on them continue to live. Deforestation is in fact considered the second major driver of climate change (more than the entire global transport sector), responsible for 18-25% of global annual carbon dioxide emissions.

Direct human causes of deforestation include logging, agriculture, cattle ranching, mining, oil extraction and dam-building.

The Amazon Rainforest being destroyed

Why is The Amazon Rainforest being destroyed?

Amazon rain forest, a storm inundates a wooden shack just off a sodden mud road. Inside, Antonio Bertola sits clutching a $1 beer under a painting of the Virgin Mary, his face ruddy and his clothes tatty from a lifetime of work on the land.

The frontier town of Realidade is a mere speck on a changing map. To the north stretch hundreds of billions of trees and more than 1 million species never charted by man. To the south the muddy trail of human conquest reaches back for centuries. In a bittersweet tone of voice, Bertola recounts how his family of migrants had hungered for prosperity, security and, most of all, land to call their own.

Five decades ago Brazil incentivized millions of its people to colonize the Amazon. Today their logging yards, cattle enclosures and soy farms sit on the fringes of a vanishing forest. Powered by murky sources of capital and rising demand for beef, a violent and corrupt frontier is now pushing into indigenous land, national parks and one of the most preserved parts of the jungle.

Brazil’s new President, Jair Bolsonaro, an unapologetic cheerleader for the exploitation of the Amazon, has the colonists’ backs; he’s sacked key environmental officials and slashed enforcement. His message: the Amazon is open for business. Since his inauguration in January, the rate of deforestation has soared by as much as 92%, according to satellite imaging.

As human activity in the Amazon ramps up, its future has never been less clear. Scientists warn that decades of human activity and a changing climate has brought the jungle near a “tipping point.”

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The rain forest is so-called because it’s such a wet place, where the trees pull up water from the earth that then gathers in the atmosphere to become rain. That balance is upended by deforestation, forest fires and global temperature rises. Experts warn that soon the water cycle will become irreversibly broken, locking in a trend of declining rainfall and longer dry seasons that began decades ago.

At least half of the shrinking forest will give way to savanna. With as much as 17% of the forest lost already, scientists believe that the tipping point will be reached at 20% to 25% of deforestation even if climate change is tamed. If, as predicted, global temperatures rise by 4°C, much of the central, eastern and southern Amazon will certainly become barren scrubland.

The Amazon Rainforest being destroyed

What is deforestation?

Deforestation, as the name suggests, is the process of clearing a forest or a large area of trees to make space for other land uses, such as agriculture, commercial development, or urbanisation. While deforestation can occur in any part of the world, the rate of deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil is one of the most severe worldwide.

Deforestation can happen naturally, for example, when forests are destroyed by wildfires, disease, or insect infestations. However, human activities like logging, mining, and agriculture are the main drivers of deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest and globally.

Tropical deforestation is a significant concern because tropical rainforests play a crucial role in regulating the Earth’s climate, supporting biodiversity, and providing essential resources for human survival. The Amazon Rainforest alone is home to millions of plant and animal species and produces around 20% of the world’s oxygen.

Deforestation has harmful effects on the environment and the economy. The loss of forests contributes to climate change by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and reducing the planet’s ability to absorb it. Deforestation also leads to soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, and potential water shortages.

Thus, deforestation is a complex issue with significant implications for our planet’s health and the wellbeing of all living things. By understanding the causes and consequences of deforestation, we can work towards implementing solutions for a more sustainable future.

Brief overview of the Amazon Rainforest

The Amazon Rainforest, the largest rainforest in the world, is a lush and vibrant ecosystem spanning across nine countries in South America, covering an area of over 5.5 million square kilometres, of which almost 60% is in Brazil. It is famously known as the ‘lungs of the world,’ producing 20% of the Earth’s oxygen and playing a crucial role in regulating the planet’s climate.

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But it’s not just the ecological importance that makes the Amazon Rainforest a wondrous place. The rainforest is home to over one million Indigenous people and millions of species of plants and animals, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. From jaguars and macaws to medicinal plants and exotic fruits, the Amazon Rainforest is a treasure trove of biodiversity.

However, the Amazon Rainforest is facing significant threats given the rates of deforestation, mainly from human activities like deforestation, mining, and agriculture, but also from natural events like forest fires. These activities have devastating impacts on the ecosystem and the people who depend on it, including Indigenous communities who have called the rainforest home for thousands of years.

Despite these challenges, the Amazon Rainforest can be restored with collective support. Many organisations and individuals are working to protect the rainforest through sustainable practices, conservation efforts, and education initiatives. And we can all do our part, whether it’s reducing our consumption of products linked to deforestation or supporting eco-friendly practices.

The Amazon Rainforest is undoubtedly one of our planet’s most incredible and important ecosystems. It’s up to us to protect it, so future generations can enjoy its beauty and benefits for years to come.

Recent trends in deforestation rates

Deforestation has been a hot topic for quite some time now, and it’s not going away anytime soon. In fact, in the past years, deforestation rates in the Amazon have been on the rise, and the consequences are dire. In 2022, the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest witnessed a dramatic peak in deforestation: it lost the equivalent of nearly 3,000 soccer fields a day.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), approximately 10 million hectares of global forests are lost every year. Picture an area the size of Iceland but without the icy coolness. Instead, it’s a wasteland. According to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon rose more than 50% in the first three months of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

The Amazon Rainforest loses an average of 1.4 billion trees each year. When trees are cut down, they release carbon dioxide, a significant contributor to the climate crisis we’re facing. That is why deforestation is responsible for roughly 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions each year. That’s on par with the entire transportation sector’s emissions worldwide, including cars, planes, and ships.

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So, what’s driving this increase in deforestation rates?

  • Deforestation is often driven by human activity, such as agriculture, human settlements, and infrastructure development. One major driver is agriculture, specifically the production of soybeans and cattle ranching. Cattle ranching and soybean farming are colossal culprits, with cattle ranching accounting for 80% of current deforestation in the Amazon. As demand for these products increases, more and more land is cleared to make room for crops and grazing.
  • Illegal logging is another significant contributor, with millions of trees lost to this illicit activity every year. Despite efforts by environmental agencies and the Brazilian federal government to crack down on the practice, it continues to happen at an alarming rate.
  • Traditional communities and Indigenous land are often the targets of these illegal activities, displacing people and disrupting their way of life.
  • The dry season also plays a role in deforestation rates. During this time, it’s easier for fires to ignite and spread, making it easier for land to be cleared quickly. Unfortunately, deforestation-related fires can lead to devastating consequences, such as the loss of homes and businesses and even the loss of life.

So, what can be done to combat these trends in deforestation rates? Sustainable development and economic incentives for landowners who preserve forests are a great place to start. Additionally, supporting Indigenous communities and traditional land use practices can help protect valuable ecosystems and promote biodiversity. We discuss these and other solutions in more detail later in this article.

The bottom line is that we can’t afford to ignore deforestation’s impact on our planet. It’s time to take action and take responsibility for our actions. The future of our planet depends on it.

Moreover, it’s not just the atmosphere that suffers from deforestation. Forests serve as habitats for a large portion of our planet’s wildlife. Can you imagine losing over 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity and species due to deforestation?

The Amazon Rainforest being destroyed

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