WHY ARE RAINFORESTS BEING DESTROYED? Every year an area of rainforest the size of New Jersey is cut down and destroyed. The plants and animals that used to live in these forests either die or must find a new forest to call their home. Why are rainforests being destroyed? Humans are the main cause of rainforest destruction. We are cutting down rainforests for many reasons, including:
extraction of minerals and energy. Rainforests are also threatened by climate change, which is contributing to droughts in parts of the Amazon and Southeast Asia. Drought causes die-offs of trees and dries out leaf litter, increasing the risk of forest fires, which are often set by land developers, ranchers, plantation owners, and loggers. In 2005 and 2010 the Amazon experienced the worst droughts ever recorded. Rivers dried up, isolating communities, and millions of acres burned. The smoke caused widespread health problems, interfered with transportation, and blocked the formation of rain clouds, while the burning contributed huge amounts of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, worsening the effects of climate change. Meanwhile, Indonesia has experienced several severe droughts in recent decades.
The worst occurred in 1982-1983 and 1997-1998 when millions of acres of forest burned. RAINFOREST DEFORESTATION PHOTOS ** The vast majority of scientists believe that human activities are contributing to climate change. Destruction of the Amazon rainforest has in the past year, reversing a decade-long trend of better protection for the world\’s greatest rainforest. Environmentalists blamed a controversial passed by President Dilma Rousseff for the increase in deforestation by loggers and farmers. But the environment minister, Izabella Teixeira, rejected this, saying the overall trend was \”positive\” and that eliminating illegal deforestation remained the government\’s goal. The set-back in the Amazon came as the first global, revealed that since 2000 an area equal to 50 football pitches has been destroyed every minute. The total loss is 10 times the area of the UK, with only a third being replaced by natural and planted reforestation, and the destruction is accelerating in the tropics. The razing of forests is a major contributor to the emissions that drive climate change.
Trees provide a vital store of carbon, as well as providing livelihoods for a billion people. But deforestation has more than doubled in Indonesia, Paraguay, Malaysia and Cambodia, largely due to illegal logging. In the Amazon, the use of satellite data has helped the government since 2003-4 by allowing police to pinpoint illegal activity in the vast forest, which is bigger than western Europe. But the 5,800km2 in 2012-13 was a 28% increase on the record-low in the previous year. Paulo Adario, leader of, said the spike was scandalous: \”The government can\’t be surprised by this increase in deforestation, given that their own action is what\’s pushing it. The change in the Forest Code and the resulting amnesty for those who illegally felled the forest sent the message that such crimes have no consequences. \” The revised Forest Code was passed in 2012 after more than a decade of efforts by Brazil\’s powerful agricultural lobby. The changes eased restrictions for smaller landowners, allowing them to clear land closer to riverbanks, and allowed those who had illegally felled land to not face penalties if they signed an agreement to replant trees, which many environmentalists say is unlikely to be enforced.
Adario added that the push by Rousseff government\’s for infrastructure projects in the Amazon region was also a cause, noting that much of the recent destruction was along a government-improved highway running through Para and Mato Grosso states, which eases the transport of illegal timber. Another factor is high global food prices which drives forest clearance for cattle and soya farming. \”There are various ways to spin this figure, but there\’s no way it\’s good news,\” said Dr Doug Boucher, an expert on. \”Certainly the amendments to the Forest Code were one reason. It\’s a warning that although deforestation can be reduced rapidly and dramatically by strong policies, it can also increase again when those policies are weakened. \” Brazil has demanded funding from rich nation\’s to cut deforestation and has been sensitive to criticism of its effort to develop and improve the living standards of its 200 million people. In 2009, the then : \”I don\’t want any gringo asking us to let an Amazon resident die of hunger under a tree.
We want to preserve, but they will have to pay the price for this preservation because we never destroyed our forest like they mowed theirs down a century ago. \” About three-quarters of Brazil\’s emissions come from rainforest clearing, as trees are burned or felled and rot, making the nation the world\’s sixth-biggest emitter of the carbon dioxide. The new global satellite study shows that Indonesia, despite being just a quarter of the size of, now destroys about the same area of forest. \”Recent progress has been made with Indonesia\’s forest moratorium, which prevents new licenses to clear primary forest, but it suffers enforcement challenges,\” said Prof Matt Hansen, at the University of Maryland, who led the global satellite study with Google and other researchers. \”It\’s too early to tell if the moratorium has actually reduced forest loss. \” Hansen said \”timely\” annual updates of global deforestation will start in early 2014: \”Prior to this, most information about forests is years out-of-date by the time it finds its way into policymakers\’ hands. \”