Over 40% of the earth’s tropical rainforests have been cleared since the 1940’s. Should we be concerned about the loss of the tropical rainforest biome? Why? Before deciding if we should be concerned about the loss of the tropical rainforest biome, we should first take the time to learn and understand about the tropical rainforest biome. This is what I intend to do in this essay before deciding to be concerned about the deforestation or not. A biome is a regional ecosystem characterized by distinct types of vegetation, animals and microbes that have developed under specific soil and climatic conditions.
Deforestation is the loss of forests due to the over cutting of trees. In this essay I will investigate the effects of deforestation in the tropical rainforests and the effects it has. One of the many countries in the world to be home to rainforests is Brazil and its famous Amazon rainforest. Between the stages of May 2000 and August 2006, almost 150,000 kilometres squared of forest was cleared in Brazil, an area larger than Greece. Although some deforestation occurs naturally due to forest fires, one third of Brazil’s recent deforestation is linked to ‘shifted’ and poor subsistence cultivators.
More of Brazil’s deforestation is linked to the countries notorious cattle ranching. A large proportion of the Amazon rainforest was cleared to facilitate the rearing of beef for international fast food companies such as McDonalds. More of the rainforests are cleared for pastureland by commercial interests, government policies and commercial exploitation of forest resources. Brazilian beef entering Europe as processed meat imports rose from 40% to 74% between 1990 and 2001. However, deforestation in Brazil is directly linked to the economic wellbeing of the country.
The decline in deforestation from 1988 to 1991 matched the economic down turn of Brazil’s economy at the time. Like everything in the world, there are two sides to every story, advantages and disadvantages. In this paragraph I will explain why people may not be concerned about the continuous clearing of our earth’s tropical rainforests. One of the up sides, or advantages of our rainforests being cleared is the wood it produces. Mahogany and Teek are hard woods that are extremely valuable for carpentry and cabinetry. The majority of antique furniture is in fact made from these woods which emphasises the value of the wood.
As well, some of the rainforests plants with dry season adaptations can produce quality waxes and gums eg. carnauba and palm hard waxes. In a poor, underdeveloped country such as Brazil, we must think of the benefits to the people of the country. While clearing the tropical rainforests is devastating for its inhabitants, it does however create many jobs for the Brazilians which would otherwise have been without. Jobs are created while clearing the rainforests, jobs for the lumber jacks when cutting down the trees and also jobs for the machine drivers which help to clear the forest.
These jobs allow for families to be fed and clothed and kept from deaths door. The clearing of the rainforests help the economy in more ways than one. The machines used to clear the forests need to maintained and so mechanics are employed. The machines need fuel and oil to function so this also helps the economy. The land made available by the clearing of the rainforests makes land available for homeless peasant farmers so they too, benefit from the deforestation of rainforests. In Brazil’s circumstances, the soil in the cleared rainforest area is incredibly fertile.
This allows for the poor peasant farmers to grow sought after commodities such as Brazil nuts and cocoa. When one thinks about the effects of our rainforests being cleared more and more, the first thought that springs to mind is the aspect of global warming. With thousands of trees being cut down, the obvious effect is for the carbon dioxide levels to rise and rise. Researchers have found that the carbon dioxide gas has major influences on climate change so the rising level of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere will affect our future for the worst.
In saying this, much of the lumber throughout the tropical rainforest biome makes for poor lumber. There is another issue regarding deforestation which one would not necessarily think of straight away and that is landslides and mud flows. When the rainforest is cleared of its trees, there is poor soil cover and no longer are there roots of trees to bind the soil together. As expected when the rainforest receives the vast amount of rain that it does, there is major surface run off, resulting in landslides and thus, causing extreme devastation.
With the clearing of the rainforest biomes, many rare animals eg. the spider monkey and the jaguar, lose their natural habitats and therefore are unable to survive outside the rainforest. The same can be said for the rare plants found in the rainforest. Many of these plants have large, broad leaves to absorb the little sunlight that does fall on the forest floor. These large leaves have large moisture requirements. Therefore when the trees above them in the rainforest are cut down there is no more shelter from the intense sunlight.
Because of this the rate of transpiration increases meaning the plants moisture is lost and in turn the plant dehydrates and dies. This is also the case with regards to many plants which are found to have natural cures within them. Since 1959, 25% of all prescription drugs were originally derived from plants sourced in the tropical rainforest. Surveys also show that 3000 plants have been identified as having anticancer properties such as the ‘rosy periwinkle’ (catharanthus roseus) of Madagascar. This contains two alkaloid that fight against two forms of cancer.
Therefore we are able to see this as one of the biggest disadvantages alone of destroying our earth’s tropical rainforests. Having studied this statement from all angles possible and having weighed up all advantages and disadvantages, I now have a clearer opinion on the matter than I had done before starting this essay. While there are both advantages and disadvantages going with this topic I would now be in the mind frame of believing that we need to preserve the world in which we live in. I therefore come to the conclusion that yes, we should be concerned about the loss of the tropical forest biome.
Bibliography * Introduction to geography, fifth edition – The Department of Geography, University College Cork, 2010. * Economic Development in the Tropics – B. W Hodder, 1968 * Diversity and the Rainforest – John Terborgh, 1992 * Tropical Rainforest Ecosystems, Structure and Function, edited by F. B Golley, 1983 * www. aip. org/history/climate/co2. htm * www. mongabay. com/brazil. html * www. uwsp. edu/natres/nres743/definitions/biomes. htm * www. everythingbio. com/glos/definition. php? word=deforestation * www. yahoo. com/question/index * www. shylar. com/jenkins/20001/post1945/amazon