Learning the facts about rainforest deforestation

With so many vested corporate interests in the rainforests and large PR campaigns used to mitigate the perception damage of rainforest deforestation, it helps to retain the facts in mind and see what’s actually happening with clear eyes.

The facts around rainforest deforestation are stark. Whereas rainforests once covered around 14% of the earth’s land, now they cover less than half of that and the remaining rainforests may well disappear in under forty years unless action is taken.

Thanks to the effects of intensive farming, clearing, logging and other commercial activities, the world is losing 1.5 acres of valuable rainforest every second! The consequences are severe, not just for the local communities that lose their lands and livelihood, but for the developed world that needs this ‘organic lung’ to keep our environmental balance in check.

The fact is, the rainforests are worth more than their timber and land. They are home to some of the world’s most unique species of animal and plants and their value to science and medicine alone are impossible to quantify. If deforestation continues, almost half of the world’s animals, plants and micro-organisms will become severely threatened, or destroyed within the next twenty five years. Experts already believe that we’re losing 137 species every day and along with their disappearance go the potential cures for many diseases and illnesses. Already, over 120 prescription drugs are developed from plant-based sources and yet to date, only 1% of the rainforest’s plants have been tested for potential new drugs and cures.

The impact on people is also huge. Five hundred years ago there were around 10 million Indians believed to be living in the Amazon’s rainforest and yet today, those figures are less than 200,000. Over ninety indigenous tribes have disappeared in the last 120 years and with them goes a wealth of local knowledge.

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