Tropical rainforests and their vulnerability

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The Threats and Losses:

How much?

  • Rainforests once covered 14 percent of the Earth’s land surface, now they cover 6 percent and experts estimate that the last remaining rainforests could be consumed in less than 40 years.
    • Globally 2.4 (1 hectare) acres of rainforest have been destroyed every second… it is the equivalent of two US football fields put together.
    • 149 acres (60 hectares) have been destroyed a minute.
    • 214,000 acres (86,000) per day: an area larger than NYC.
    • 78 million acres (31 million hectares per year: an area larger than Poland.
    • In Brazil an estimation of 5.4 million acres have been destroyed per year. (estimate averaged for period 1979-1990)


  • Rainforests are being destroyed because the value of this land is perceived as only the value of it’s timber by short sighted governments, multi-national logging companies and land owners.
  • Commercial logging => teak, mahogany, rosewood etc…. for furniture, building materials, charcoal for big businesses and big profits. Comaines: Texaco, Mitsubishi corp. Unocoal…
  • Governments and their development of natural resources. control 805 of rainforests
  • National debt=> World Bank
  • Logging rainforest timber => $$large economic resource
  • Composition of the soil, nutrients are locked up in the trees, less than 10% of the Amazonian soils are suitable for agriculture.
  • subsistence farming
  • “squatter’s rights”
  • cattle ranching
  • mining
  • oil extraction
  • hydroelectric dams


  • The loss of tropical rainforests may lead to devastating world impact, rainforests are so biologically diverse
  • consider this:
  • Consider this.
    • A single pond in Brazil can sustain a greater variety of fish than are found in all of Europe’s rivers;
    • over 2000 species of fish have been identified in the Amazon Basin – more species than the entire Atlantic ocean.
    • a 25 acre plot of rainforest in Borneo may contain over 700 species of trees – a number equal to the total tree diversity of North America.
    • A single rainforest reserve in Peru is home to more species of birds than the entire United States.
    • One single tree in Peru was found to harbor 43 different species of ants – a total that approximates the entire species of the British Isles.
  • The biodiversity of the tropical rainforest e.g.: less than 1% of it’s millions of species have been studied by scientists for possible uses by man. Scientific experts estimate loss of 137 species of plants, animals and insects everyday.
  • consequences are air/water pollution, soil erosion, malaria epidemics, release of carbon dioxide, eviction of tribes, loss of bio-diversity and of species becoming extinct.
  • Carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere from fires and rotting vegetation may lead to an increase in global warming.

Author: Gillian S.


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