It is amongst the world’s most prized treasures and contains more forms of life than any other place on earth. It is essential to the survival of life on our planet by regulating climate, oxygen flow and disposing of toxic chemicals in the atmosphere. But is being destroyed at a massive rate. It’s important to protect this international treasure, Our Rainforests. And it’s up to you.
Introduction- Why are the rainforests being cut down? C.Options chosen instead of rebuilding III.Why is the government not rebuilding NOW? Conclusion- Not enough action is being taken to stop the destruction and rebuild the rainforests. A girl named Nina Kuashachi and her family planted a small clump of rainforest-dwelling trees outside of their small home in Central Africa. She said “I just want to get back the forest that was taken from my family.”
She used to live in the middle of a large rainforest but industrialization efforts by her native country have destroyed most of this forest for industrial plants and factories. Nina planted these few trees to try and get back “what was taken from me” and surprisingly, she did more about rebuilding the rainforest than a lot of the native governments have. The situation explained above is one all too familiar to citizens of countries once covered in lush rainforests. The gigantic trees, the colorful birds and the millions of brightly decorated insects are now lost. Companies cut down this beautiful resource for grazing pastures for cattle, orchards and housing. The governments have turned their backs on this growing problem and shut their eyes to the advantages of rebuilding these forests. As the tropical rainforests are being destroyed not enough action is being taken to stop the destruction and rebuild the forest. Count to sixty. In those sixty seconds, 75 acres of tropical rainforest was lost (RPN. p.1).
This adds up to over 108,000 acres a day, and 39 million a year (R.P.N. p.1)! It is at this rate that the world’s supply of rainforests went from the original 4 Billion acres down to only 2.7 billion that remain today (see index 1A and 1B). While the main reason for most of this destruction is to mine the land, many well-known U.S. companies buy wood from the rainforest just because it is cheaper (because of the location of the forests and use of third world labor). And the area where this wood is harvested is usually clear-cut. Then the land is used for grazing cattle that are killed and sold to other prominent U.S. companies. What these companies do not realize, or choose to ignore, is the destruction of the resources. Many indigenous people in the forests have strong ties to their land. They have lived for centuries in sustainable existence with the forest itself and are distraught by the destruction that is ruining their home.
As a wise Indigenous man once said: “The earth is our historian, our educator, the provider of food, medicine, clothing and protection. She is the mother of our races (R.A.N p.3).” These people have been living in the forest for centuries. These people have been losing their land and their lives to deforestation efforts by the Europeans and the Americans in the 14th through the 20th century. The desertification process is affecting many of the animals that live in the rainforest. Many of these animals are losing their homes and are dying out. In a four-mile square of the Brazilian rainforest there are an estimated 750 species of trees, 125 species of animals, 100 species of reptiles, and 400 species of birds (RPN p.2)! And yet in only twenty minutes a logger can cut down a 33-foot wide, 1,000 year old tree that could be home to over 300 individual animals (RPN p.2)!
Many of the species of animals in the world are found in the rainforest and there are thousands more we have not yet discovered. Through the deforestation process we are actually losing many species before they are discovered. Animals are not the only things being lost to the chainsaws of logging companies. The world’s most important resources are also being cut down. Eighty percent of the earth’s vegetation comes from the rainforests, and therefore food that can benefit all the peoples of the earth. As American farmland is being cleared for additional housing the government is looking to import food from other sources. Food harvested from the rainforest (by those who do not harm the forest with their farming) is actually cheaper to purchase and therefore would equal more economic growth for our country. In addition to food many plants, there are rarely known treatments for diseases located in the rainforests that can be exported to countries all around the world (Smitherson, p.125). And a few scientists in Africa have claimed to find a cancer-killing plant in the heart of the forests (Smitherson, p.128)!
The way many scientists find the source of these pharmaceuticals is from the medicine men. The medicine men are usually indigenous tribe leaders with an expert knowledge of plants and herbs. It has been said, “When a medicine man dies, it is as though a library has burned down (Hyperion, p.2).” The problem is that as indigenous tribes are being forced out of the forest, the medicine man tradition is dying off. The biggest concern of all is the oxygen supply that is found in the rainforest. Fifty percent of the oxygen you breathe comes from the rainforest and 40% comes from phytoplankton that may live in the rainforest that is especially sensitive to pesticides. And only 10% of the oxygen in the atmosphere right now comes from sources other than the rainforest.
The rainforest also is important to the world’s climate because it cleanses the atmosphere of toxins. As the levels of pollution are rising, it is important to cleanse the atmosphere of such harmful agents. There are things that can be done to stop the destruction and save the forests. But many people and companies are not willing to take the necessary steps to rebuild the rainforest and shelter the indigenous people. In correspondence with Mr. Herb Vickers, Jr., General Manager of ARCO Oriente, Inc., I asked of the reasons why they were destroying the forest in Ecuador. He replied: We believe that ARCO brings a critical difference assisting the government in meeting needs – our commitment to explore and develop in a manner that preserves the interests of the local communities and generates economic and social benefits for the region while working toward the continued vitality of Ecuador He blames the destruction of the rainforest on the lack of interest of the people. And he states what many others are unwilling to say; they are afraid to preserve the forests in third world countries because of the economic stress it would put on the country’s economy.
The truth is that studies show that farming from the forest as an alternative of desertification is more prosperous – because as soon as rainforest land is clear cut it is only fertile and fruitful for about four years. Then the nutrients are worn out and the land becomes susceptible to erosion which, in turn, causes flooding which can cause considerable damage to a third world country’s economy itself! Many organizations that are dedicated to protecting the rainforests have realized that the only way to save the rainforests of developing countries is to buy it from them: How to run their business,” Charles Haskell, chairman of Endowment Board for the National Wildlife Federation wrote in an article on Wednesday, July 31, 1991, in [his company newsletter]. “A Brazilian sees slashing and burning as a way to live.” It is not fair to ask Brazil to bear the financial burden. Brazil is a developing nation short of cash. We must buy and preserve the rainforest!”
A rainforest is a forest that can grow relatively quickly and will last a very long time. The cost of building a rainforest that can be harvested from is actually quite cheap. About four thousand dollars to plant all those trees and, in retrospect, that is insignificant to the value of rainforest products (Chanson, p.15). There is a large demand for products from the rainforest in today’s economy, particularly in the area of pharmaceuticals; herbal medicines are a big market. But instead many companies are choosing to cut down rainforests and plant small orchards. Many people know about the destruction that is occurring in the rainforests but simply do not take action.
“Even writing a simple letter will help” said Rainforest Action Network spokeswoman Mary Schmidt. Many business executives of companies that destroy the forest never are forced to take responsibility for their actions because there is a lack of interest from the people or their customers. The rainforests of the world are being cut down at an inconceivable rate. The beauty, splendor and usefulness are being destroyed. Though it is easy to rebuild these forests and the benefits of this action would outweigh the possible disadvantages, many prominent governments are saying no. Not enough action is being taken to stop the destruction and rebuild the rainforests.
Works cited: Trouble in Paradise.
Books: Anonymous, Science Desk Reference. New York, NY. New York Public Library, 1996 Chanson, Janice. Selling the Forests. Chicago IL. Random House Publishing Co. Hyperion, Mauelan. My rainforest and those it shelters. Minneapolis, MN. St. Paul Publishers Jacobsen, Steve. Breathing it in. Chicago IL. Random house publishing co. Web resources: Guayaki Sustainable Rainforest Products, “Why we harvest from the rainforest and don’t cut it down.” www.Guayaki.com/products/harvesting/ last updated: unknown Rainforest Action Network (R.A.N.), “Rainforest facts” www.ran.org/ last updated: 11/14/99 Rainforest informational site, “Rainforest info” www.rainforest.com/ last updated: 11/2/98 The Rainforest Alliance, untitled article. http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/ last updated unknown. Rainforest Coalition web site, “Our rainforests and why they’re important to us” www.rainforest.org/ last updated: unknown Online rainforest, Untitled article www.onlineforest.com last updated :unknown Wildlife Associates, www.wildlifeassociates.org/ last updated: unknown