The suffices for commercial agriculture due to the constant

The
Amazon Rainforest is the largest forest in the world. The Amazon covers over 2
million square miles, making up about 40 percent of the entire landscape of
Brazil (“Amazon Rainforest” 2017). Aside from it’s large size, the Amazon rainforest
is also responsible for the largest biodiversity in the world, comprised of
both plants and animals. These unique plants and animals are at high risk of
damage and extinction as deforestation is happening in the Amazon at an
alarming rate and the effects are widespread. It is estimated that nearly 20
percent of the Amazonian rainforests have been lost due to deforestation since
1970, but the Amazon Rainforest is not the only forest at risk. eforestation
rates are at an all-time high across the globe and our world’s rainforests are
all at risk of being wiped out.

Deforestation stems from a variety of
sources including: agriculture, cattle ranching, mining, logging, infrastructure
expansion and overpopulation (Lam 2013). Commercial agriculture is the largest
source of deforestation in the world and also in the Amazon Rainforest and is
estimated to be responsible for over half of the deforestation happening across
the world (Jones 2014). Illegal deforestation is highly fueled by the increased
demand for resources such as palm oil, soy, wood and beef (Jones, 2014).  While many forests don’t have healthy soil to accommodate
agriculture, the lower Amazon suffices for commercial agriculture due to the
constant floods which tend to replenish nutrients in the soil (Buhtler 2012).

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Forest clearers that wipe out areas of
the rainforest for commercial agriculture purposes, tend to use slash-and-burn methods
to clear land.

 

This method can wipe out hundreds or even
thousands acres of land and the technique involving burning the rainforest
releases nutrients that are locked in vegetation, which produces a layer of nutrient-rich
soil (Buhtler 2012). The land is used for several years for various agriculture
purposes and then needs fertilizer to sustain vegetation. When the fertilizer
stops working, the land is no longer of use to commercial agriculturalists.  While efforts are often made to replenish plantations
that have been slashed and burned, it’s nearly impossible for the depleted soil
to get back to it’s original biodiversity (Lam 2013).

Illegal logging also plays a key role in
the wide-spread destruction of the Amazon rainforest. Illegal logging is more
of a norm than an exception in the Amazon rainforest (“Logging in the Amazon”
2005). The forests in SouthEast Asia and Africa have been heavily destroyed over
the past several decades so the Amazon has turned to be a target source of
timber resources. The Samauma trees, aka “Queen of the Forest”, are being
cut down to create cheap plywood for countries such as the United States and
Europe (“Logging in the Amazon” 2005).

 

           

Cattle ranching is another massive
driver of deforestation in the Amazon. Housing nearly 200 million cows, the
amazon is the largest exporter in the world, supplying nearly 25 percent of the
global market of cattle. The low cost and simple transportation in the Amazon
make it a prime location for ranchers which supports deforestation (“Cattle
Ranching in the Amazon”). The ranching grass has to be burned every couple
years to replenish the feed for the cattle. The amount of land needed to
support cattle is estimated to be about ten times that of the land needed to
harvest grains (“Cattle Ranching in the Amazon”).

 

            Last, but not least, infrastructure
expansion is another key driver in deforestation. This happens through the
constructions of roads, pipes, etc. which are put in to support entryways to
previously remote areas. An example of this is the 5,404-km Interoceanic
Highway, which runs from Brazil to Peru. This highway runs straight through
the Amazon rainforest (Lam 2013). The road expansions are linked to both legal
and to illegal logging as well.

            There are countless negative effects
from deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. In terms of climate change, one of
the possible grave climatic consequences of Amazon deforestation is not a
change in precipitation intensity during the dry season, but an increase in the
duration of the dry season (Costa et al., 2009). The loss of species is also a
result of the deforestation as they lose their home or place to gather food. Plant
species are being wiped out as well. On a global level, logging is a huge
concern for the climate. When trees are cut, they release a large amount of
carbon into the atmosphere which is heat-trapping. This contributes to the
global issue of global warming. Infrastructure advancement in the Amazon is
bothersome to the Amazonian residents and as new people come into the forest,
locals may be displaced. Lastly, once huge areas of the forest are burnt down
and continue to be “slashed and burned” the area cannot get back to it’s
original state which changes the entire ecosystem of the forest.

 

            Despite people both illegally and
legally contributing to deforestation in the Amazon, there is a lot being done
to prevent and/or help lower deforestation. In recent years, both countries and
large companies are rallying against deforestation and are committing to cut
down less trees while replacing them with new ones. “In 2014, the New York
Declaration on Forests united 30 governments and 50 companies under the
goal of cutting natural forest loss in half by 2020 and ending it by 2030” (Bergen
2016). Pressure is also being put on Brazil’s government to get tighter on law
enforcement when it comes to breaches of regulations surrounding deforestation
in the amazon. The establishment of highly protected areas, increased satellite
monitoring, increased government enforcement, and industry cooperation is not
an easy task. The Brazilian people have been behind this movement to reduce
deforestation and they deserve a lot of credit for that (Mcarthy 2015). There’s
also a lot that can be done by us as individuals on a smaller scale. With
things like soy and wood being harvested in the amazon, increasing deforestation,
we can do our part to research where our products are coming from and support
products that are not linked to the Amazon.

            In conclusion, the Amazon is the
most beautiful, biodiverse rainforests in the world and while efforts are being
expended to preserve the forest, it’s still at risk due to deforestation. It’s
important that we all educate ourselves on the sources of deforestation and do
our part to preserve this beautiful area of nature which serves as a home to
thousands of people, animals and plants.