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Destruction Of The Amazon Rainforest Essay

2051 words - 8 pages

In South America lies the largest and most wondrous rainforest in the world, the Amazon Rainforest. This 1.4 billion acre forest represents over half of the planets remaining rainforests, and comprises the largest and most bio-diverse tract of rainforest in the world. Ten percent of all known species on the planet are found in this rain forest, most of which have yet to be discovered. For the past century, the Amazon has been gradually decreasing in size due to agricultural expansion, ranching, infrastructure projects, energy exploration and illegal logging. At its current state, the Amazon is losing land equal to the size of the state of Delaware every year. The destruction of this forest releases 340 million tons of carbon per year according to the World Wildlife Foundation, or WWF, which in turn cause climate changes everywhere around the world. Undiscovered species can hold the key to curing a plethora of diseases, but if those species become extinct those keys are lost forever. If nothing is done to prevent this, the world’s treasure trove of bio-diversity will cease to exist, creating irreversible damage to not only the South American people but also the rest of the world.
Conversion of the tropical forest into cropland and pasture began a long time ago in Ecuador, before their secession from Spain. Their major crop was cocoa, which was grown along the waterways to be exported out as their main source of trade. Due to the fact that after World War II expansion accelerated throughout the northwestern section of the forest, a highway system was put into construction. At this point in time, the Ecuadorian Amazon consisted of a few small towns that had been established in valleys and at the base of the mountains. Indigenous groups comprised the majority of the population, and there was little contact with the rest of the world. That changed in 1967 when oil was discovered in the northeastern part of the country and tens of thousands of immigrants from the Costa and Sierra settled along the roads leading to oil fields. To support the massive increase in population more cropland and pasture had to be created. According to the book, Economic Progress and the Environment, in the 20 years following the discovery of oil the amount of land used for growing crops increase by 350 percent and two million hectares of land was cleared from cattle. After this point, the conversion of natural ecosystems into farms and ranches spread into neighboring countries and continues to at a rate of two percent per year.
Indigenous groups such as the Yanomamö and Kayapo have been living in the Amazon for thousands of years, slowly accumulating a detailed knowledge of the rainforest and methods to subsist from it (Parker). With the invasion of the Amazon, these ethnic groups now need to share the forests with a growing number of settlers who seek to tap into the Amazon’s considerable natural resources. Hunter-gatherer groups were once generally nomadic, living in...

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