Deforestation Of The Tropical Rainforest

2100 Words9 Pages
Deforestation of the tropical rainforest in Brazil and surrounding countries

I. Introduction

Tropical rainforests are unique ecosystems with specific features that make them a world patrimony. Today about forests cover about 31% of the planet’s land. However, 46-58 thousand square miles of forest is destroyed yearly, equivalent to 36 football fields per minute. Besides its ecological value, they provide several exploitable resources, which make these forests important in an economical perspective. Most tropical rainforests in the world belong to developing countries, where deforestation has been recently occurring at high rates due to the development of agribusiness. Brazil, which can attribute
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Figure 2 (adapted from data of INPE, 2011) illustrates the evolution of clear-cut deforestation in Amazonia from 1988 to 2011.

Figure 1: General biome classification map for Brazil. The darker green area is the Amazon forest.

Figure 2: Evolution of clear-cut deforestation in Amazonia from 1988 to 2011. The reduction from 1988 until 1991 is attributed to the Brazil’s economic recession, when the government lacked funds for road construction and settlement projects. The peak in 1995 is a reflection of an economic recovery in Brazil, and economic reforms increased the availability of capital. The fall in 1996 and 1997 is a result of falling land values and unattractive land speculation. The increase from 2001 to 2004 is a result of a sharp growth in the international market for soybeans and especially beef (Fearnside, 2005). From this point, the oscillations between the deforestation rates can be explained by the fluctuations of beef and soybean prices in the international market, the concession of land in the agrarian reform (both increasing deforestation), a higher density of conservation units, and penalties applied by the federal government (both decreasing deforestation).

Grasslands started to substitute rainforest areas in the Amazon for several reasons, and now cattle ranching is one of the most lucrative activities in this region. The growth of soybean plantations is another
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