Disappearing Tropical Rainforests

Essay by twan05University, Bachelor'sA, May 2012

download word file, 5 pages 0.0

Downloaded 4 times

Disappearing Tropical Rainforests

The destruction of the tropical rainforests is one of the biggest global environmental problems that we face today. Although the rainforests are 'local' and confined to certain areas of the world, their destruction is, nevertheless, a global problem, and this is so for several reasons. First, the rainforests are the lungs of the planet. They absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. Rainforests are also sinks, storage reservoirs of natural substances, in particular of carbon. Finally, rainforests are the only habitats of literally thousands and thousands of plant and animal species. Many of these species have not even been identified and may be lost forever. Scientists believe that amongst the unidentified plants we may find many which can potentially cure some of our deadliest diseases. Others are already used as curer: quinine for example, which treats malaria, which is found in the rainforest.

According to Myers "tropical forests still cover almost 8 million km2 of the humid tropics.

But they are being destroyed at ever-more rapid rates. In 1989 the area deforested amounted to 142 200 km2, or nearly 90% more than in 1979. So whereas the 1989 total amounted to 1.8% of the remaining biome, the proportion could well continue to rise for the foreseeable future, until there is little forest left in just another few decades"(2001). Deforestation does not occur evenly. Some areas are being destroyed faster than others.

Deforestation refers to the "complete destruction of forest cover through clearing for agriculture of whatever sort (cattle ranching, smallholder agriculture whether planned or spontaneous, and large-scale commodity-crop production through e.g. rubber and palm-oil plantations). It means that not a tree remains, and the land is given over to non-forest purposes" (Myers, 2001). Many developing countries count on tropical rainforests to improve their economies. "The global loss...