Tropical Rainforest Case Study

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Sasha Zouev

IB, 16/11/05

Tropical Rainforest Case Study, Amazonia


        Tropical rainforest, temperate coniferous and deciduous woodland forests are the three main categories of forest type.  Tropical rainforests are considered a much richer species that the other two, and temperate vegetation is one that grows fastest.  The rainforest ecosystem is very weak and easily unbalanced, making this type of forest more “permanently destroyed” than the other two.  The importance of tropical rainforests lies within the fact that they are the earth’s richest source of life as they play a vital part in the earth’s natural cycles of soil, water and air through the process of photosynthesis.

         In this case study we will be looking closely at the tropical rainforest in the Amazonia region of South America. 

Where is this Rainforest?

        The term, Amazon rainforest, is used to basically talk about the moist and broadleaved region of what is known as the Amazon Basin, which is around 7 million km squared and covers areas of mainly Brazil, Colombia, Peru and many more South American countries.  This rainforest accounts for around 50% of the world’s remaining rainforests.  Amazonian rainforests contain the biggest and most species-rich tract of tropical rainforest that there is to be found.  It is the world's greatest natural resource - the most powerful and bio-actively diverse natural phenomenon on the planet.

What exactly has happened?

        The main problem with the Amazonian rainforest is that it is being destroyed just like other rainforests around the world. The problem and the solution to rainforest destruction are both economic.   Although one-third of the world’s trees still grow in the Brazillian rainforest, their numbers are being sharply diminished due to deforestation.  The causes of deforestation are very complicated. A competitive economy forces the want for money in poorer LEDC’S. Brazil sells logging concessions to raise money for projects, to pay international debt, or to develop industry. Brazil had has an international debt of $251 billion as of 2001.

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What is Logging/Deforestation?

        By definition of logging can be described as “The act of cutting down, trimming, and hauling the timber of (a piece of land).”  Deforestation is, simply put, the complete clearance of forested land.

Farming in the Amazon

There are three types of farming methods used:

        - “Slash and Burn” – the traditional method used by the natives in the rainforest.  Although this method is most sustainable, it also causes significant areas to be cleared, even if only temporary, each year.

        - Subsistence farming – an increasing popular method due to the government giving land to ...

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A good general overview of the Amazon tropical rainforest, examining some of the reasons why it is in under threat and the activities that are taking place to threaten it. There are places where additional detail could be added to strengthen the case study. 4 stars