Essay by Max_Smoow April 2005

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Throughout the tropics, rain forests are being cut down. By different methods and for different reasons, people in tropical regions of the world are cutting down, burning, or otherwise damaging the forests. The process in which a forest is cut down, burned or damaged is called "deforestation."

Global alarm has arisen because of tropical rain forests destruction. Not only are we losing beautiful areas, but the loss also strikes deeper. Extinction of many species and changes in our global climate are effects of deforestation. If the world continues at the current rate of deforestation, the world's rainforests will be gone within 100 years-causing unknown effects to the global climate and the elimination of the majority of plant and animal species on the planet.

Deforestation occurs in many ways. The majority of rain forest cut down is cleared for agricultural use-grazing of cattle, planting of crops. Poor farmers chop down a small area (typically a few acres) and burn the tree trunks, a process called "Slash and Burn" agriculture.

Intensive, or modern, agriculture occurs on a much larger scale, sometimes deforesting several square miles at a time. Large cattle pastures often replace rain forest to grow beef for the world market.

Commercial logging is another common form of deforestation, cutting trees for sale as timber or pulp. Logging can occur selectively-where only the economically valuable species are cut-or by clearcutting, where all trees are cut. Commercial logging uses heavy machinery, such as bulldozers, road graders, and log skidders, to remove cut trees and build roads. The heavy machinery is as damaging to a forest as the chainsaws are to the trees.

There are other ways in which deforestation happens, such as the building of towns and flooding caused by construction of dams. These represent only a very small fraction of total...