Causes and Consequences of Deforestation of the Amazon Rain forest
The Amazon Rainforest is the largest in the world. Together with the Amazon River, it is often called the “lungs of the earth”. This is because it provides most of the air that we breathe. This forest has since the 1970s experienced massive destruction. There are several reasons that can be attributed to the deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest.
Causes for deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest
There have been many development projects within the Amazon forest. This has led to construction of roads leading to the forest and thus opened it to many opportunity seekers. The following are some of the developmental and civilization projects that have contributed to the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest:
- Farming and ranching. Even though in the early 20th century people used to carry out farming within the forest, it was only for subsistence purposes and at a very small scale level. However, this has changed and many large scale farming projects are going on within the rainforest land. This has led to clearing of the forest. In addition to this, the government of Brazil introduced ranching projects and this led to massive deforestation to accommodate ranches and large scale cattle keeping.
- Logging and lumbering. The Amazon Rainforest is known for its variety in wood. This has led to large scale lumbering activities. Lumbering is done for different purposes including selling the logs and even producing charcoal. This has contributed to destruction of the rainforest.
- Mining activities. Bauxite, tin, iron, nickel and gold are just some of the few minerals found in the Amazon region. These have attracted many miners into the area to dig for the precious minerals and destroy forests in the process.
- Resettlement and immigration. There are many groups of people who have settled within the Amazon rainforest. These include both the locals and the immigrants who are in search of better opportunities within the region.
Consequences of deforestation and mitigation measures
Since the forest passes through different countries in South America, there have been different levels of deforestation in each country. Brazil has the highest portion of the rainforest and between 1970 and 2004, close to 2 million trees were destroyed on an annual basis. This number hit 3 million in 2004 and the Brazilian government took several measures to increase protection against deforestation. The government introduced more punitive measures and stringent laws against those who carried out illegal lumbering activities and deforestation. Additionally, there were satellites introduced into the Amazon Rainforest area which monitor any activities going on around the forest and help curb deforestation.
Other governments in South America have been slower in dealing with deforestation and this is reflected in the rates of deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest within their countries. Though Colombia’s deforestation levels have dropped slightly and stagnated since 2000, the same cannot be said of Peru.
Having permitted mining activities in the forest, Peru is still experiencing massive deforestation with a peak of 250,000 trees being cut in 2012. Ecuador is yet another country that has experienced deforestation with the exploitation oil and gas being rife. Bolivia, Venezuela and the Guyana have all had lower deforestation levels since the beginning of the new millennium. There are also many environmental lobbying against the destruction of this important forest.
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