The Amazon rainforest is the largest gathering of trees on the planet, covering 5,500,000 square kilometers. The area is vast, spread across nine countries: the majority in Brazil (60%), followed by 13% in Peru 10% in Colombia and other small variants in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.
The Amazon creates roughly half of its own rain fall from self-producing moisture; if there is a continuous increase in deforestation then the affects will not only have consequences on the rainforest’s ecosystems, but also on the worlds weather. If deforestation continues almost half of the world’s animal and plant species’ existence will be in question. The Rainforest Action Network have said that from 2000 to 2006 a land mass of 93,000 square miles was destroyed, equivalent to the size of the UK. This overwhelming rate of deforestation means that the possibilities the forest holds for curing diseases and creating medicines also die with the forest.
Beneath all the wild biodiversity there are hundreds of tribesmen that have lived off the land for hundreds of years, following in the footsteps of their ancestors. There are around 400 tribes living in the Amazon, each speaking with a different tongue but facing the same difficulties when it comes to land. Land for tribes equates to life. They rely on their land to live, hunt, and rest, so their situation is problematic as deforestation acts as destruction of this land. Tribes of Indians living in Brazil have no land ownership rights and, like many tribes, are facing annihilation and are dying trying to save their home from corporate invasiveness.
What does deforestation mean for them? Tribesmen are endangered peoples who are under threat just like their habitat; organizations like Survival International are dedicated to helping them. Ninety tribes are thought to have completely disappeared during the 20th century, with many being wiped out due to foreign invasion bringing diseases the tribes were not accustomed to.
Carbon dioxide is produced naturally and through human sources. For years, we have been pumping CO2 into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. The Amazon has, in return, reduced this carbon imprint because trees naturally absorb CO2 in exchange for oxygen. The protection of the rain forest then, is extremely important to ensure the maintenance of the already overpopulated CO2 levels in the atmosphere. This is only exaggerated by the fact that when trees are cut down and burned, there is an added effect through the release of CO2.
Deforestation of the Amazon is a very serious problem that we need to face as an international community in order to overcome it. Raising awareness for the importance of preserving biodiversity on both a local and global scale is the starting point. It is then a case of looking globally for alternatives of deforestation, more sustainable methods of deforestation, and projects that involve reforestation. The rainforest is a source of life, not only for those that live directly from its land, but for the whole world which benefits from its influences on the climate and reducing of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The Amazon is still a mystery to us, proven by the fact we are still, in 2013, discovering new plant and animal species in the tropical wonderland. It is truly a magical place and by making everyone aware of the dangers of its destruction, then as a collective we can try to do something about it.
(Source: Ed Hawes; Frontier, Huffington Post)
10 steps you can take to help save the Amazon and the world’s rainforests
1) Reduce your paper and wood consumption.
Logging companies are cutting down some of the most endangered forests on the planet to make wood and paper products such as office paper, phone books, toilet paper, window trim, lawn furniture, and 2 x 4’s. Over seventy-eight percent of the Earth’s original old growth forests have already been logged or degraded.
You can help reduce the pressure on our remaining forests by taking simple steps to reduce your own wood and paper use. For example, use both sides of each piece of paper, use your own cloth bags at the grocery store, use cloth napkins and towels, and avoid disposable paper plates and cups.
When purchasing paper products, choose products with the highest percentage of recycled content -post-consumer recycled content is the best. Choose tree-free paper alternatives if possible. Tree-free paper is made from agricultural products like waste straw, kenaf, and hemp, so not a single tree is cut down for its production!
If you are building a house or adding on to your home, utilize wood efficient building techniques and avoid old growth wood products. Learn about alternatives such as reclaimed or recycled lumber, composite lumber, and independently certified wood.
2) Reduce your oil consumption.
The burning of oil, gas, and coal is the primary cause of climate change, a trend that is threatening the stability of the global climate. Scientists have predicted that if we stay on our current path, global temperatures will rise between 2° and 9° Fahrenheit in the next century -a warming rate faster than any occurring in the last ten thousand years. In addition, oil exploration projects lead to toxic pollution and massive deforestation, posing a threat to pristine ecosystems and indigenous cultures worldwide.
You can help alleviate oil’s impact on the environment by reducing your own oil and gas consumption. The next time you purchase a car, choose one that gets good mileage and avoid gas guzzling sports utility vehicles. If you drive somewhere regularly, start a carpool. Whenever possible, leave your car at home and instead walk, ride your bike, or take local mass transportation. Support funding for mass transportation and bike lanes -options that will serve our transportation needs and our planet much better in the long run than an ever-expanding maze of roads and highways!
3) Reduce your beef consumption.
What do hamburgers and chainsaws have in common? Both cause massive deforestation of tropical rainforests across the world. The production of beef is without question the biggest cause of deforestation in the Amazon, with figures ranging from 65 to 70 percent of all deforestation in the area from 2000 to 2005. While more recent figures from 2014 show that overall deforestation is down, the percentages have stayed fairly constant, showing that beef is still the primary reason for cutting down the forest. However these numbers account only for the areas cleared for the creation of pastures, and they fail to include the food being produced for cattle consumption. The Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies stipulates that Brazil alone has 24 to 25 million hectares devoted to the production of soy, 80 percent of which would end up as animal feed. These numbers all contribute to the consensus that the primary reason for rainforest deforestation in the Amazon can be attributed to the beef industry. It then stands that the quickest way to end the massive deforestation in the Amazon would be to decrease demand for Brazilian beef. However that seems to be a far off notion, as worldwide demand for beef has only been increasing, which has in part led to Brazil’s investment into its cattle industry.
How can people around the world help in saving the rainforest? The easiest answer is to cut down on the consumption of beef. For more information contact www.earthsave.org.
4) Buy loose fruit, veg and meat
By just doing this you will save at least one carrier bag of plastic per week per household. That is 52 less bags of plastic going to landfill or recycling depots. According to ons.gov.uk there are 27.5 million households in the UK that would equate to 1430 million bags of less plastic going to landfill and recycle depots PER YEAR!
As a collective we can make a real difference.
5) Check your ingredients for Palm Oil
Palm oil is in many of the products we eat and use every day. One day go through your larder to see how many products have palm oil in. You will be surprised what products use palm oil, including your toiletries! By buying different products when we shop without palm oil or with sustainable palm oil will help stem the demand.
Palm oil is also used in cheap brands by writing to your supermarkets to stop using palm oil they soon will get the message, if they don’t again vote with your feet and shop else where. Iceland have recently announced they are no longer having Palm Oil in ANY of their products. If one large chain can do this then they all can!
6) Hold businesses accountable.
Corporations need to know that the public will hold them accountable for business practices that are socially or environmentally destructive. If you feel that a company’s business practices are environmentally irresponsible, send the company a letter expressing your concern, or organise a boycott of the company, you can write to today to help protect the Earth’s forests. To learn more about these companies, please visit the website such as www.ran.org
7) Invest in rainforest communities.
Rainforest Concern have a new project called Forest Credits. This is a unique programme from Rainforest Concern that allows you to offset your carbon emissions and at the same time help protect native forests, their biodiversity and the important environmental services they provide, creating a lasting environmental legacy.
www.rainforestconcern.org or Sponsor your own acre or more of rainforest!
It costs £50 to sponsor an acre of rainforest and in return, we will give you a personalised certificate recording your sponsorship and regular updates on our progress. In protecting an acre of forest you will also be sponsoring the protection of many plants and animals – from the majestic cats to resplendent birds and the industrious ants living on the floor of the rainforest! If you raise over £100 there are books, T-shirts and posters up for grabs! Click here for more information.
8) Support the grassroots.
In 1999, Home Depot, the single largest retailer of lumber in the world, agreed to phase out its sales of old growth wood. This victory was a direct result of the hard work of grassroots activists, who staged more than six hundred demonstrations at Home Depot stores across the U. S. and Canada and the UK. You can play a critical role in future victories by joining or starting a Grassroots Action Group in your area. Or simply vote with your feet. If a company is not listening stop shopping there. The power of the consumer is HUGE
9) Support Rainforest Action Networks.
Sign up to Newsletters and join petitions. AVAAZ has ongoing petitions to stop the oil drilling in the Amazon https://secure.avaaz.org/en/oil_in_the_amazon_global/
Follow Rainforest Concern
Rainforest Action Network https://www.ran.org
10) Spread the Word
With the use of social media let us join forces and unite! For more details go to www.rainforestdreams.co.uk