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The impact of human activity in tropical rainforests - examples from Madagascar.

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Introduction

´╗┐The impact of human activity in tropical rainforests Impact of human activity: deforestation: Destruction of the world?s tropical rainforests is a major environmental issue. Deforestation is the deliberate clearance of woodland by cutting, burning or the application of a defoliant, such as that used during the 1960s by American troops to clear the jungle in Vietnam. In some developing countries and NICs, tropical rainforests, such as those in the Amazon basin in South America, and in Indonesia and Malaysia in the far east, are being destroyed at an alarming rate. There are claims that half of the world?s original rainforests have already been cleared, with an area the size of the UK being cleared every year. Climatic climax vegetation has been destroyed and this has resulted in both secondary succession and pagioclimax. The vegetation that eventually grows to replace the original rainforest tends to be smaller in height and less diverse, with a reduction in the overall biomass. Causes of deforestation: * Demand for hardwood, such as teak, for building and furniture is increasing and many developing countries rely on export earnings from timber to help pay their debts and finance major development projects * Deforestation also occurs to provide land for rubber plantations, cattle ranches for ...read more.

Middle

* Burning associated with forest clearance leads to local air pollution and contributes to climate change * Deforestation can have economic benefits in terms of income from farming, mining and exports of hardwood. However, the culture of indigenous people is destroyed and they may be forced to move from their land ECOSYSTEMS AND BIODIVERSITY: Deforestation in Madagascar: Madagascar, a large island located off the east coast of Africa, is one of the world?s most threatened hot spots for terrestrial biodiversity and is a priority for conservation action. Much of Madagascar?s flora and fauna is endemic: 98% of land mammals and 68% of plants exist nowhere else. * After 1896, when Madagascar became a French colony, the Malagasy forests were rapidly depleted. * Localised logging for fuel wood and clearing for agriculture were partly to blame; however this was mostly small scale. * Since the 1950s, rates of deforestation have increased rapidly, although this is not unique to Madagascar In 1985, it was estimated that only 34% of the original rainforest remained in Madagascar and that deforestation was most rapid in areas of low relief and high population density. ...read more.

Conclusion

direct sunlight may reach the forest floor and increased evaporation Effects on the biosphere include: loss of biomass, decrease in number and range of important habits, decrease in species and genetic diversity and rapid soil erosion, which leads to a loss of nutrients Solving the deforestation problem: non-protectionist approaches: The establishment of protectionist approaches to managing the problem may only be a partial solution. Other options include the following: * Debt swapping. This is scheme initiated in the USA whereby banks based in MEDCs agree to reduce or remove debts from and LEDC, by allowing their debts to be purchased at a fraction of their real value and then used to finance conservation projects * Promote changes in agriculture. Changes in the current methods of farming may help protect soils. Palm trees can be planted, which increase the fertility of the soil and act as an interception layer, thus reducing storm runoff. The replanting of vegetables and hardwoods will also help to improve soil condition. * Changes in harvesting methods. Selective logging, rather than clear felling, allows the forests to regenerate more naturally * Increase the number of small scale conservation projects. More locally based conservation schemes may be possible, given adequate funding from foreign organisations e.g. WWF ...read more.

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