During the past several decades, changes in the global climatic pattern has become evident and has attracted much attention from both the general public and the professional environmental organizations. Deforestation is one of the main reasons for these known changes. One of the reasons that cause the disappearing of the Amazon rainforest is industrial logging, which is the single largest problem. Other problems that also contribute to the disappearing of the Amazon forests include road construction, cattle ranching, and the production of wood products, all of which are important factors to be considered. The Amazon rainforest is the world’s largest rain forest today, which has 54 percent of the total rainforests that are remaining on the planet. If Amazonia is a country, it would be the ninth largest country in the world. The Amazon is very important because it is a major contributor to the balance of global climatic patterns and because it provides places for variety of living organisms. A single pond in Brazil can contain more kinds of fish than are found in all of Europe’s rivers. Twenty-five acre of rainforest in Borneo may contain over seven hundred species of trees, which is equal to the number of trees in the whole North America; one single rainforest in Peru has more bird species than the entire United States. One tree in Peru had forty-three different species of ants, which is the estimated to be equal to the number of ant species in the British Isles. The Amazon rainforest is truly amazing. (Taylor, Leslie. Herbal Secrets of the Rainforest. Prima Publishing, Rocklin, CA)
(Steen, Harold K., and Tucker, Richard P. Changing Tropical Forests.Forest History Society, 1992)
For years, however, the Amazon suffered from non-stop deforestation. It is estimated that, as of 1997, 52 million hactre of Amazon rainforest has been cut down. According to scientific estimation, if such rate of destruction in Amazon is not controlled, nearly 80 to 90 percent of its present ecosystem will be destroyed by the year 2020 (Taylor Leslie, Herbal Secrets of the Rainforest. Prima Publishing, Rocklin, CA). Similarly, the rate of the destruction of rainforests around the world is currently increasing, especially after the year 1997. As Jean-Paul Jeanrenaud, head of the Amazon forest program stated, " 1997 will be remembered as the year the world caught fire." During that year, over 200,000 acres of rainforest were cut or burned each day. That is, over 150 acres of rainforests disappeared every minute. At this rate, more than half of the world’s tropical rainforest will be cut down for industrial uses in less than 50 years. While it is generally recognized that reforestation programs in the Amazon region are essential to the global climate, the Brazilian economic problems are preventing or delaying the initiation of these programs.
Cattle ranching is the primary reason for deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. When the demand in the world for meat increases, more rainforest lands are being destroyed and turned into farmland for animals. By estimation, there are 220 million cattle, 20 million goats, 60 million pigs and 700 million chickens, in South America just to meet the world’s demand. (Eden, Michael J. Ecology and Land Management in Amazonia. London, and New York: Belhaven Press, 1990) The cattle ranching program continues to move southward into the center of South American rainforests. Large acres of land in the Amazon rainforest are been cut and burned then reseeded with grass for cattle and other farm animals. Currently, the cattle ranching business in the Amazon rainforest has caused a total of 500,000 acres of rainforest destroyed. This has already effected the natural rainforest’s ecosystem.