The Amazon is a vast territory of jungle in South America that develops around the Amazon River and the basin formed by its tributary rivers. This tropical forest is called the lung of the planet because it helps to maintain climate balance and is also one of the regions with the greatest biodiversity.
Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, the Guianas and Suriname are the countries that have part of their green and dense vegetation in their territory. Since 2011, these almost 7 million square kilometers, mostly primary forests, are considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
What is a primary forest?
A primary forest is a large extension of forest mass that has never been exploited by human beings or has been intervened by any of their activities. Its biological and ecological wealth are considerable and a high percentage of terrestrial diversity is concentrated in them.
They are still unknown ecosystems in their entirety, and new species are frequently discovered. The Amazon rainforest is the most extensive primary forest, among the seven considered worldwide.
- It guarantees the survival of populations of all living beings, without human intervention.
- They are homes of indigenous peoples.
- They regulate the world climate.
- Impossible to recover if they are destroyed.
Deforestation is the process of stripping a piece of land of its vegetation, that is, trees and plants. This can be produced by natural causes, such as floods or forest fires that devastate everything in their path, or as a direct result of human activities.
NASA satellite image
Since 1970, the rate of deforestation has exploded globally. Since then, the area of the Amazon rainforest has been reduced by 20%. And these ecosystems recover very slowly, even species of flora and, therefore, fauna are in danger of disappearing forever.
In the 2006 report Devouring the Amazon, the environmental Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Greenpeace argued that much of the deforestation of the Amazon It is carried out to introduce soybean crops, which are in high demand worldwide.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) presented figures in 2016 that indicated that the percentage of forest land in relation to the global land area had decreased from 31.6% to 30.6 % in recent 15 years.
In April 2018, the Global Forest Watch platform, belonging to the World Resources Institute, published in its annual report that there was loss of primary forests near or within indigenous territories and shared the list of the 10 countries with the highest deforestation.
Countries with the most deforestation:
- Republic of Congo.
- Papua New Guinea.
Four of the top 10 have territory belonging to the Amazon rainforest, the one with the greatest damage from deforestation.
In this most recent report, Brazil is at the top of the list of countries that lost the most primary or native tropical forests. The truth is that the figures of deforestation of the Amazon on the Brazilian side they have increased in the recent 12 months.
With most of the territory of the Amazon in Brazil, the world is awaiting the decisions that its current president, Jair Bolsonaro, could make, who has openly announced that he wants to boost the economy of the Amazon, favoring development over conservation.
The interactive map provided by Global Forest Watch is useful to review and analyze the reality of all the world’s forests by zones. In violet color you can see the extensive loss of tree cover.
Causes of deforestation in the Amazon:
- They convert tracts of land into monoculture agricultural plantations.
- They set up and dismantle farms for extensive cattle breeding.
- Construction of roads and other communication routes.
- Commercial extraction of wood and its derivatives.
- Mining activity.
- Construction of gas pipelines.
- Hydroelectric plants.
- Oil extraction platforms.
- High demand for food products worldwide due to high population growth.
- Scarce legal framework, lax application of laws and corruption of government officials and institutions.
Impact of deforestation in the Amazon:
- Significant reduction of the biodiversity of the biosphere.
- Deterioration of the lung of the planet.
- Displacement of indigenous communities.
- Disappearance of plant and animal habitats.
- Decreased reproduction rate of animals.
- The seeds that are produced are weaker and have little chance of germinating.
- Risk of becoming a carbon emitter from extensive logging and burning of trees.
- Indigenous populations with nutritional problems, alcoholism and new diseases.
- Water pollution by oil.
- Modification of river channels.
- Loss of flow of some tributaries.
- Militarization of populated areas.
- Increased demand for biofuels.
- Loss of a world heritage site.
- Proliferation of drug crops.
- Zones of violence and violation of human rights are created.
The importance of the Amazon rainforest as an original ecosystem and as a barrier to climate change is immeasurable.
Global initiatives abound, at the governmental, non-governmental and private group levels to try to stop or reduce indiscriminate acts against the deforestation of the Amazon and all the primary forests.
Possible measures to take:
- Expansion of protected areas.
- Greater controls on production chains.
- Promote sustainable management.
- Grant ownership of land to indigenous communities.
- Effectively tackle illegal activities.
- Fight against land speculation.
- Regeneration of vegetation.
- Government policies to prohibit deforestation.
- Compliance with international agreements and commitments on the environment and indigenous communities.
- Policies of corporate responsibility in environmental areas, human rights and against corruption, especially in projects that negatively impact the Amazon rainforest.
- Compliance with laws that prevent the entry of wood products from forest destruction.
- Avoid trade in raw materials from deforestation.
- Citizen awareness about the adaptation of sustainable lifestyles and consumption.