• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Tropical rainforests - causes and effects of deforestation, and possible alternatives to current practices.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Mercedes Benz Biology 100 Matt Carling Section 5 26 October 1998 TROPICAL RAINFORESTS: CAUSES AND EFFECTS OF DEFORESTATION, AND POSSIBLE ALTERNATIVES TO CURRENT PRACTICES Tropical rainforests are the most alive places on earth. Covering less than 12% of the land's surface, the rainforests are home to more than half of all living species (Lewis, 4). 90% of all non-primates reside in tropical rainforests. Two-thirds of known plants, 40% birds of prey, and 80% of all insects are found only in tropical rainforests. Of the 2.5 to 5 million animals species thought to exist, only about one-half have been identified to date. The vast majority of rainforests are found in Brazil (Amazon), South Asia, Africa, and Central America. (WRM, 16). The two main types of rainforest are equatorial rainforests and tropical rainforests. Equatorial rainforests make up about two-thirds of all rainforests, and is found bordering the equator in Brazil, Zaire, and Southeast Asia. The temperature and the rainfall in equatorial rainforests are the same year-round. Tropical rainforests, on the other hand, are found north and south of the equatorial rainforests, and they have definite wet and dry seasons. (http://www.waste.org/...). Rainforests are named so because of the rain they create within themselves. From morning to noon, as the sun heats the forests, the trees transpire hundreds of liters of water. This water forms large cumulonimbus clouds which start raining by 2 or 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Most of the rainfall stays on leaves of the tallest trees, in the canopy. The next day, this water evaporates to fall again as rain. ...read more.

Middle

Ecological destruction caused by cattle ranching, therefore, is often long-term and irreversible. Within a few years, the former rainforest soil becomes exhausted and it washes away. Ranchers are then forced to move to previously undisturbed tracts of forests. (WRM, 43-46). In the Brazilian Amazon, real estate speculation is a major cause of deforestation. A centuries-old practice there is to grant the right of possession to whoever deforests a piece of land. These rights of possessions are soon full rights of ownership. The only thing people have to do to claim land is show that they are using it, and the easiest way for them to do this is by clearing it. (Fearnside, 216). The amount of tropical rainforests which have been lost to dams is alarmingly high. As developing nations seek to 'hydro-industrialize,' the forest becomes increasingly threatened. So far, the reservoirs of large dams worldwide have submerged a land area the size of Italy. Eventually, dams will have flooded about 2,346 kilometers of forest. (WRM,47). The social and ecological effects of the building of dams have been severe. In India, between 1950 and 1975, for example, 479,000 hectares of land was flooded. In Brazil, the Tucurai Dam flooded 271,000 hectares of rainforest. More dams in Central and South America continue to fill up and destroy thousands of acres of virgin forest. (WRM, 47). Mining and industrial development continue to cause more deforestation and ecological degradation. They also aid in social impoverishment of the local inhabitants. Clashes between indigenous people and miners are common occurrences. One example is the Grande Carajas Project in Brazil. Carajas is the site of the world's largest deposit of high-grade iron ore. ...read more.

Conclusion

In theory, individual countries can choose to leave their forests untouched. However, few, if any, have the luxury to do so. The previously forested land can be transformed to provide jobs, homes, and food for many people. (Scott, 35). However, according to Margaret Scott, conservative logging can be practiced. Tropical forests theoretically can be selectively logged with only the largest trees extracted, and the forest can be left fallow for a time to allow it to regenerate so it can be logged again. "If logged properly, a production forest retains most of the diversity of its plants and wildlife. It also continues to act as a buffer against erosion and climatic change (35)." Bob Holmes suggests other alternative ways of logging. He says loggers should first draw an inventory of the specific chosen location and the species of trees they plan to cut. Skidder (bulldozer) trails should be planned out in advance. They should cut vines from selected trees and allow them to wither to prevent unnecessary secondary damage, and they should focus on selectively killing undesired trees. According to a study done by Chris Uhl of Pennsylvania State University, these practices produced better results: Vine cutting reduced the number of damaged trees by 30%, and careful mapping of skidder trails reduced the affected area by 25%. (Holmes, 41). A fundamental problem of deforestation is that the groups of people who profit from deforestation are not the same people who pay for the resulting environmental, social and financial costs. The majority of the problems are left behind for future generations to deal with, while deforestation causes immediate profits and meets the basic needs of many people today. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Environmental Management section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Environmental Management essays

  1. The Development of the Travel and Tourism Industry After World War II

    Research reveals that: 1. 78% say that there is still plenty of things for tourist to do in the country 2. 46% believe that most places in the countryside were closed during foot & mouth but then fell to 17% following a new advertisement 3.

  2. With reference to named examples, explain the causes, effects and solutions to famine

    and those in urban areas were fed before anyone else, which deteriorated the situation in rural areas. Although the human causes may have been more prominent in the Great Chinese Famine, there were still physical aspects which made the famine worse.

  1. What is Deforestation?

    First of all, there is going to be loss of fuel-wood, which leads to reduction of soil nutrition. When the diminishing of forest occurs, rainfall increases. This will then increase the rate of soil erosion. Erosion is a natural process whereby weathering, dissolution, abrasion, corrosion, and transportation, by which material is removed from the earth's surface occurs.

  2. Compare the effects of droughts on both DCs and LDCs. Assess the strategies used ...

    In the order of 20 cotton communities and 10,000 people directly employed by the cotton industry are impacted by the drought. While developed countries are affected, the effects pale in comparison.

  1. Evaluate the impact of deforestation in Indonesia.

    There are conflicts between indigenous people such as the Moi people and the logging companies, for example the Intimpura Timber Company. The logging company threatens the way of life of the Moi people. The government granted a logging licence to the company in 1990 for 339 000 hectares of land.

  2. What are the effects of Deforestation?

    The additional carbon resulting from human activity is the cause of the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration over the last 150 years. Carbon reservoirs1 Like most other objects in the universe, the Earth holds a great deal of carbon.

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

    Due to the extreme debt of the Malagasy government, the country has been exploiting wood resources to pay off money owed to MEDCs. 71% of the country?s 17.5 million people are estimated to be below the poverty line. Ranomafana National Park: * Large area of over 400km2 of primary rainforest

  2. The characteristics of the vegetation of tropical biomes are more the outcome of continued ...

    the soil and break down up to 30 kg of cellulose per hectare each year. In some areas up to 600 termite hills per hectare can be found, which has a significant effect on the upper horizons of the soil.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work