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The purpose of this paper is to inform the reader of the destruction of the rainforest. In my paper I discuss many aspects of the rainforest. I explain what the rainforests are, and give a brief summary of the importance of the rainforests. I also give a description of the destruction of the rainforest, and how a person can help to save the rainforest.
The rainforests are disappearing acres per minute, a number that grows so quickly it would be impossible to cite here because it would be outdated within a week. The rainforests are home to over half of the entire species of the world, which are being destroyed with the rainforests. Unlike the rainforest itself, which may appear to grow back, it will never be the rainforest it once was, and the species that were killed will never return again. Many of the species that have not yet been discovered may very likely cure cancer, AIDS, and many other diseases and viruses of today. If the rainforests disappear so will most of the population of the world. By the end of my paper the reader will know more about the horrifying destruction of the rainforest and how we can all work together to stop it.
There are two different types of rainforests: tropical and temperate. Tropical rainforests are found in 85 countries around the world. They are located near the equator, where temperatures stay above 80 degrees Fahrenheit year round. These dense, damp forests occur in Latin and South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Although they (tropical rainforests) cover just seven percent of the earth’s surface they can provide habitat for 50-90 percent of its animal species. In 1990, tropical rainforests totaled some 1.7 billion hectares (Forest Alliance of British Columbia, 1996). Half of the world’s rainforests lie within the borders of Brazil, Indonesia, and Zaire.
Tropical rainforests have 3 layers: the forest floor, the understory, and the canopy. The forest floor has soil and is home to mainly insects although large mammals like gorillas and jaguars are also found there. Many smaller animals, including anteaters, lemurs, and tree kangaroos live in the understory. This is also where many small trees and shrubs are found.
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Temperate rainforests are much younger than their tropical relatives. Most temperate rainforests are less than 10,000 years old, compared to the tropical rainforests. The soil in the temperate rainforests are much more nutrients than that of the tropics. Temperate rainforests are located near the Pacific coast of Canada and the United States, and are also in New Zealand, Tasmania, Chile, Ireland, as well as Scotland and Norway. Temperate rainforests are much more scarce than tropical rainforests.
The rainforests are very important to the world for many reasons, most of them being very simple. One major reason being that plants in the forest turn carbon dioxide into clean air, which helps us fight pollution. Also, by absorbing carbon dioxide, the rainforests help deter the greenhouse effect. The trees of the rainforest store carbon dioxide in their roots, stems, branches, and leaves. The plants and animals of the forest also help provide us with food, shelter, jobs, and medicines. Imagine losing the cure for cancer, AIDS, and many other diseases by destroying the forests. It is said that many of the rainforests contain plants that hold the cure for many worldly diseases of today. Although there is scientific proof of its value, the rainforests continue to disappear. The rainforest is full of diversity when it comes to plants and animals that live there. Many of them are found nowhere else in the world.
The destruction of the rainforests was put very simply by the Forest Alliance of British Columbia (1996): “The global population has more than tripled this century and will continue to grow for the next 50 years, particularly in developing countries. World population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050. Because the number of people living on the planet increases, the number of forest products needed also increases, forcing temperate and tropical rainforests to be cut down. The destruction of the rainforests causes carbon dioxide to be released, which in turn allows the greenhouse effect to occur. The greenhouse effect raises the temperatures around the world and can cause ice caps to melt. When ice caps melt, the sea level rises causing massive flooding all over the world.
Traditionally there were three major causes of destruction to the rainforest: farming, ranching, and logging. Farmers in rainforest countries are often poor and cannot afford to buy land. Instead they clear rainforest land to grow crops. Since the soil in the tropical rainforest is so bad the farmers cannot use the soil two years in a row so they cut down another rainforest the next year to plant crops.
Ranching can also cause destruction of the rainforest. Ranchers clear many acres of rainforest to become a pasture for their cattle. This land does not cost them very much so they can sell cattle for less. Because this is very profitable ranchers continue to clear rainforest land, so they can raise and sell more cattle. During the 1980’s, about 16.9 million hectares of tropical rainforest were cut down and replaced with farms and grazing land for cattle (Forest Alliance of British Columbia, 1996).
The third major traditional reason for destruction of the rainforest is logging. Trees from the rainforest are used to build homes, making furniture, providing pulp for paper products such as newspapers and magazines. Rainforest that was chopped down will grow back over time but will never have the same variety of plants and animals.
There are many different ways that we could all help prevent the rainforest from any more destruction. Worldwide boycotts are the most effective ways of stopping rainforest destructions. Boycotting fast food restaurants that serve hamburgers that come from cattle that were raised on rainforest land could help prevent matters from getting worse. Also boycotting buying furniture products that are made from rosewood, mahogany, ebony, and teakwood, because they most likely came from rainforests.
If one wishes to become more involved in preserving the rainforests, it is possible to buy acres of rainforest land. Your contribution funds land acquisition, legal fees, and security costs to ensure that acre will be protected as part of designated land preserve. For those who adopt land there is a tourist program available to you to go and visit the land that you have adopted.
Although it appears as though everyone can help protect the forests, in order for their long-term existence, the local people who are used to burning and cultivating, logging and hunting, must learn the alternatives to the traditional, destructive occupations.
Ecology is not about protecting a tree here and a tree there; rather, it is a complex system that governs how things work together. Both temperate and tropical rainforests are important, if we wish to protect them, we must learn to use them with care. We must understand how forest ecosystems work, and how our everyday decisions affect their well-being.
Forest Alliance of British Columbia. (1996). Tropical and temperate rainforests. Forest Alliance Publications. http://www.realm.ca/forest/puba.html.