The Effects of Rainforest Destruction on the Environment

Rainforest destruction has many clear immediate causes, as well as many implications for our environment, health, and lives. There are many people who make their livelihood out of destroying these wondrous ecosystems, and it provides so many products and amenities for our lives. What many people do not realize, however, is that all of the actions that seem to be helping humans, are only going to harm us in the long run. The problems tied in with the massive destruction of the rainforest have already shown themselves to us, and scientists and environmentalists now question if the effects are irreversible.

Commercial logging is a main contributor to deforestation. It consists of mature trees being cut down for timber. Those who support this practice state that by using a selective logging method, the forest will regrow itself in time. However, due to the nature of the machinery and practices used by the logging industry, this is not true. As the soil is disrupted, the rainforest has a difficult time of re-growing, therefore people and animals who depend on the rainforests to live are severely effected.

Also, logging roads are created for farmers to have access to the forest area, and this destroys even more of the rainforest. A very small amount of industrial logging is sustainable, according to The International Tropical Timber Organisation. These shifted cultivators, or people who have moved into rainforest areas in order to conduct small-scale farming operations, are responsible for at least 60% of tropical rainforest loss. As they find that the soil is not fertile, they are forced to move deeper into the forest, which destroys more of the rainforest and its ecosystems. Ironically, these landless peasants are usually forced from their land due to logging, mining, large-scale agriculture, hydroelectric dams, and industrial development.

Another cause of this destruction is the clearing of undisturbed rainforest land for the purpose of tree plantations, food crops, and land for grazing cattle. The local people are made to go hungry, while these crops are sent to rich industrialized countries. Since the agriculture practices are now so destructive and the soil is insufficient to grow much of anything, the productivity of these cash crops or monoculture plantations declines rapidly after only a few years. Cattle also destroy the land with their extensive grazing.

This list of causes is not exhaustive, as there are many others that affect the delicate nature of the rainforest, the indigenous people, and the creatures that make it their home. Fuel wood is taken out of these forests, hydro-electric dams are built by cutting down the trees for their use, indigenous people have been displaced for mining and industrial projects, as well as the practices of rainforest area colonization of people from financially poorer countries and eco-tourism have all harmed these ecosystems.  Many solutions have been proposed, yet the battle wages on between continuing harmful destruction, and the restoration of the trees and protection of species and indigenous people.

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