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Julia Stapinski

Ecology 3/4

December 12, 2008


Preservation of the Rainforest

The rainforests of the world once were places where plants and animals were able

to thrive peacefully in their natural environments, uneffected by humans and their

destructive ways, but in the past 30 years this has changed. Recently human interference

has badly affected the earth's rainforests, resulting in profit and comfort for mankind in

the short term. "The rainforests produce 20% of the entire world’s oxygen and, less well

known, 30% of our planet’s fresh water. The forest stores 40% of all the carbon in

terrestrial life, plus a third or more of all the carbon stored in the world’s soils." (Field)

What most people don't know, however, is that the destruction of the rainforest has

started a chain of longterm effects that will ultimately lead to extreme discomfort and

hassle for us all by means of climate change and the continued depletion of our earth's

natural resources.

Deforestation began in the 20th century when population explosion started and

people needed more space to live, therefore they had to expand and cut down forests, not

only for space but to use the trees as resources also. "The earth’s population is increasing

every second. Therefore, there is a need for more wood for shelter, businesses and also

for firewood. People clear the land to make room for new structures." (Deforestation of

the Rainforest)

One mechanism of deforestation is logging, a process in which "commercial

logging companies cut down mature trees that have been selected for their timber,"

(Causes of rainforest destruction). Most logging companies claim to use safe methods

which allow rainforests to grow back naturally, however the heavy machinery utilized to

remove only a few logs in a wide expanse of land surface can cause severe, longterm

damage to the soil, which greatly decreases the forest's chances to regenerate much of it's

wildlife. "Apart from its direct impact, logging plays a major role in deforestation

through the building of roads which are subsequently used by landless farmers to gain

access to rainforest areas. These displaced people then clear the forest by slashing and

burning to grow enough food to keep them and their families alive," (Causes of rainforest


There are several other methods of deforestation other than logging and slash-

and-burn farming, some of which include tourism and mining. Ultimately these practices

have the same effect- "Indigenous people are displaced. Roads are constructed through

previously inaccessible land, opening up the rainforest. Severe water, air and land

pollution occurs," (Causes of rainforest destruction). Most of the time the trees that are

cut down do not grow back.

The destruction of the rainforest has raised concern among many people

throughout the world. As a result, people have brainstormed several different ways to

preserve the world's rainforests and protect them from destruction. In 2008, Frank Field

launched the Cool Earth organization, a group whose goal it is to "leapfrog the clanking

machinery of the government... [and launch] an international trust that will allow every

individual, family, school, university, church, trade union, Women’s Institute and youth

group to 'own' and protect part of the world’s rainforest," (Field).