“There is enough on Earth for everybody’s need, but not enough for everybody’s greed”. The Amazon Rainforest is once again being destroyed due to deforestation. If the rainforest becomes nonexistent, the Earth’s biodiversity will be threatened, and global environmental issues will occur. To decrease the current deforestation rates concerning the Amazon rainforest, it is important to be aware of the leading stakeholders who have an impact on this issue.
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Brazil managed to save the Amazon rainforest from deforestation once, however they have now failed to protect the forest for a second time and stay vigilant. Last year in 2019, the Amazon rainforest hit its highest rate of deforestation in a decade, thus demolishing all the progress made to initially restore the Amazon. The new Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, has been the main reason as to why the forest has been dramatically cut down in a short amount of time. “Jair Bolsonaro has unfortunately decided to continue the deforestation and burning of the Amazon rainforest that was initiated back in 2012 due to socioeconomic challenges in the country to increase agroforestry and farming” (Peng, Wanxi, et al). Since Brazil elected a new president, laws that protected the Amazon were changed and deforestation has yet again become a major concern for the planet’s wellbeing.
The forest in the Amazon has provided farmers with crops for their families and local consumption since the beginning of time. Deforestation has always been around, however in the late 20th century the growth rate increased rapidly. “By the 2000s more than three-quarters of forest clearing in the Amazon was for cattle ranching” (Butler). Immense areas of the rainforest were felled for cattle pasture and soy farms, dug up for materials, drowned for dams, and bulldozed for colonization projects and towns. In 2004, the trend only began to rise higher with the forest declining at forty percent. The government decided to expand the amount of rainforest under protection by adding more reserves and indigenous lands. The forest service also added forest codes and eventually half the rainforest was put under protection. Unfortunately, ruralistas, who represent the agricultural industry gained popularity in Brazil and convinced authorities in charge of protection laws to either weaken or remove them.
If the Amazon is destroyed, which is not an unrealistic possibility at this rate, all the diversity within the forest would be lost and the entire ecosystem would be wiped out. “Forest cover change has widespread social, economic, and ecological consequences, as forests affect the provisioning of ecosystem services, the integrity of biological communities, as well as climate and air quality” (Prevedello). The rainforest’s outstanding biodiversity is essential to the world due to its ability to store large amounts of carbon that slow down or can completely stop climate change all together. However, as of right now it seems that the amount of forest loss is why the Amazon will no longer be able to make that contribution to our Earth. “The total deforestation there between 1970 and 2017 was 768,935 square kilometers (296,887 miles), an area more th.an twice the size of Germany ''(Ortolani). Even with the immense size of the forest, mankind has still managed to display such amounts of greed by using it to their own personal benefit. The Amazon rainforest, shown in Fig. 1 shows the territory of nine nations total and covers approximately 530 million hectares of land. “Brazil holds about 60% of the forest area, followed by Peru with 13%, Columbia with 10%, and Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana with smaller amounts' ' (Franklin and Pindyck).
Fig. 1 Map of the Amazon Rainforest.
The year 2012 marked the enactment of a substantial weakening of Brazil’s Forest Code, removing important restrictions particularly in the Amazon on deforestation and overall makes it easier to obtain official permission to legally clear forests (Fernside 3). Brazil’s unsteady methods concerning deforestation and afforestation have resulted in the rainforest being permanently damaged and worn out now. “Forests originally covered 40% of Earth’s terrestrial surface, but extensive deforestation over the past 300 years has greatly reduced this area” (Prevedello). Even if afforestation is also popular globally, forest cover change has over time given Earth numerous consequences for repeatedly tampering and abusing its natural state. Brazil has no legitimate reason to continue deforestation, the only factor to stand remaining is profit for agribusiness.
Although there is nothing that can be done to completely restore the Amazon again, incorporating preventative measures into our daily lives can slow down the rate of clearing the forest. Ranchers have been induced to sell their land due to the advance of soybeans in former cattle pastures and areas that used to be rainforests but are now savannas. “Soybeans spiked in 2012, briefly reaching the level (corrected for inflation) they had attained in 2004 and spurring farmers to clear more land.” (Fernside 4). Being aware of where produce and materials are purchased from will limit the amount of land being sacrificed for profit. It is theorized that this is the optimal resolution to reducing deforestation because it requires a minimal effort for every individual which increases the chances of numerous people actively participating.
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Although the United States has little impact over the outcome, another proposal is for the Brazilian government to straighten their priorities when it comes to clearing out the forest. They need to vigorously support a sustainable forest economy and stop all the logging there that is done illegally. “The [Brazil] government could support best practices for generating forest products by strengthening and improving Brazilian programs already in place” (Ortolani). Since their government holds the most authority over the Amazon forest, they are prim
The cattle industry also needs to implement practices by possibly increasing livestock activity by at least fifteen percent. Grain production growth could be achieved by converting pasture into land and meat production could grow into a greater investment as well. Agribusinesses are an essential part of taking action to make changes for what they have ultimately initially caused, the forest cannot make adequate progress without their cooperation.
Open discussions between agribusiness and environmentalist can help the government with indirect suppliers where deforestation occurs.
Although being able to completely restore the Amazon Rainforest again is impossible, being mindful of daily routines and advocating for the rainforest’s overall protection are solutions that lessen deforestation. Mankind is essentially the only culprit as to what caused this catastrophic disaster. Without the great amount of biodiversity, it has to offer, the Earth is sure to face inescapable consequences. As of today, it is essential to come together as human beings and prepare to do what is necessary to salvage what is left of the forest.
- Butler, Rhett A. “Amazon Destruction.” Mongabay, Mongabay, 4 Jan. 2020, rainforests.mongabay.com/amazon/amazon_destruction.html.
- Deforestation. 10 June 2018, ceepr.mit.edu/files/papers/2017-007.pdf.
- Ortolani, Giovanni. “Brazil Has the Tools to End Amazon Deforestation Now: Report.” Mongabay Environmental News, 11 Dec. 2018, news.mongabay.com/2018/05/brazil-has-the-tools-to-end-amazon-deforestation-now-report/.
- Peng, Wanxi, et al. “Environmental Research.” The Ongoing Cut-down of the Amazon Rainforest Threatens the Climate and Requires Global Tree Planting Projects - Forskning - Aarhus Universitet, Feb. 2020, pure.au.dk/portal/da/publications/the-ongoing-cutdown-of-the-amazon-rainforest-threatens-the-climate-and-requires-global-tree-planting-projects(faa180cd-7a17-4e70-bea1-c9f860b93eaf).html.
- Philip Fearnside, et al. “Business as Usual: A Resurgence of Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.” Yale E360, e360.yale.edu/features/business-as-usual-a-resurgence-of-deforestation-in-the-brazilian-amazon
- Prevedello, Jayme A., et al. “Impacts of Forestation and Deforestation on Local Temperature across the Globe.” PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0213368.
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