Examine the causes and the effects of biodiversity loss in the Tropical Rainforests

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Yasodara Karunaratne

Examine the causes and the effects of biodiversity loss in the TRF

Biodiversity can be defined as the variety of all forms of life on earth (plants, animals and micro-organisms). The tropics are the richest areas for biodiversity as tropical rain forests contain over 50% of the worlds species in just 7% of the worlds land. They account for 80% of the world’s insects and 90% of its primates. Even though biodiversity benefits us humans in countless ways we tend to be oblivious to this fact and instead, the biodiversity on earth is gradually diminishing. There are many reasons for the loss of biodiversity and the most prominent include Globalization & Cattle Ranching, Hydroelectric Power (HEP), Migration and Logging. Similar to how there are numerous causes for the loss of biodiversity, these causes also have many drastic effects.

        As mentioned in the introductory paragraph, globalization and cattle ranching is one of the major causes for the loss of biodiversity. Globalization can be defined as the world coming together for trading purposes. This contributes to the loss of biodiversity as globalization is directly linked with deforestation. For instances, huge global corporations like McDonalds own countless amounts of cattle which are often located in deforested areas. In addition to this, much forest land in the Brazilian Amazon is also deforested in order to enable the growth of soy beans (soy-based animal feed used by fast-food chains such as McDonalds) which leads to many effects which will be mentioned later. Not to mention, since the growing of soy bean requires a lot of land, it provokes ranchers and farmers to move deeper into the forest frontier triggering elevated levels of biodiversity loss due to deforestation. It is a known fact that 80% of the world’s deforestation which leads to the loss of biodiversity is due to cattle ranching. First and foremost, in order for cattle ranching to take place, much forest land is cleared (deforestation). This step itself holds many drastic effects: the most significant of them being an increase in the carbon dioxide emissions and the loss of habitat and the loss of biodiversity for thousands of species per year. Cattle ranching is the leading cause of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.This has been the case since at least the 1970s: government figures attributed 38 percent of deforestation from 1966-1975 to large-scale cattle ranching. According to the CIFOR, between 1990 and 2001 the percentage of Europe's meat imports that came from Brazil rose from 40-74%. Thus, as shown through the evidence, the increase in beef demand also strongly provokes more ranchers to take on this cost effective method of cattle ranching hence leading to more deforestation and consequently, leads to the huge of loss of biodiversity in the Brazilian Amazon. Cattle ranching and Globalization as a whole have numerous grave effects. For instance, increased carbon dioxide emissions (as the loss of trees eliminates a source of absorption of CO2 and the burning of trees increases CO2 levels in the atmosphere) , increased levels of methane gas (produced by cows), Soil Degradation (as overgrazing, over-cultivation and deforestation affects the nutrient cycle leaving the soil infertile and prone to erosion) and last but most relevant, the loss of biodiversity (due to loss of habitats caused by deforestation).

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        Another major factor for the loss of biodiversity is Hydroelectric power (HEP). This is because in order to construct HEP stations, large areas are needed and thus, the most ideal places for these stations are in the tropics due to the immense amounts of land and the easy access to water. And hence, in order for HEP stations to be built, vast amounts of land in the tropics are cleared directly linking the construction to deforestation and hence the loss of biodiversity. The most archetypal example for this would be the construction of the Tucurui Dam situated in the Amazon ...

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A very good examination of the causes of biodiversity loss in tropical rainforests which incorporates a number of appropriate examples. Structure is good, however at times it seems like the effects are tagged on the end of the paragraphs. 4 stars