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How is the rainforest being destroyed?
The Atlantic Forest
The golden-headed lion tamarin lives in one place and one place only – the Atlantic Forest of South America. it lives nowhere else on Earth. Not only that it is an endangered species as the rainforest is being rapidly cut down. Many species here are endemic which are species which can only be found in one place. The rainforest is under threat for a number of reasons and probably began as far back as the 16th century.
Why is deforestation happening in the Atlantic Forest?
Population pressure – caused by rapid population growth in coastal cities like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo – as the towns get bigger more
of the rainforest is being cut down
Debt repayments – in the late 1980s, Brazil’s government had to repay large loans taken out between 1965 and 1985. Brazil’s farmers were
put under pressure to produce more and earn more to help repay the debt, this meant more rainforest had to be cut down
Large-scale farming – initially to grow cash crops like coffee, tobacco and eucalyptus. once the soil’s fertility drops, the farmland is often converted into huge cattle ranches
Mining – The Carajas mine in Brazil is huge – its the world’s biggest iron ore mine, In Carajas, manganese, copper, tin, aluminium and gold are also mined. Often the land is left ruined and many pollutants wash into rivers. Cobalt and Copper are the main minerals in mobile sim cards
Road building – big projects like mines need new roads to reach them, and to transport the mined ore to processing plants and the coast for export. Roads can also be used for basic communications and to carry wood and farming goods
Slash and burn – this is the traditional method of farming used by Amerindians in the Amazon Rainforest. A small area of land is cleared and farmed for a few years, before the people leave it and move on.
Logging – (cutting down of trees) for expensive timber, such as mahogany for furniture, and for basic wood you make timber products like pulp and paper
Small farms – an increase in the number of small farms. Landless people move out the cities or migrate from the countryside in Brazil or from countries like Paraguay and Argentina and set up new farms and homes here – so more trees are cut down
Expansion of heavy industry – as a result of Brazil’s development a lot of land has been cleared for industry
What are the impacts on Atlantic Forest?
The area’s Amerindians have watched their land and way of life disappear before their eyes – when they meet new people they often get diseases and unfortunately die as they no immunity with no rainforest vegetation to protect the soil, heavy rainfall washes it away. The farmers will then need to clear more land when rainforest is cleared and the land is intensively farmed, it loses its fertility within 20 years) deforestation breaks the nutrient cycle, which the soil depends on for its fertility. The loss of so much forest has helped to contribute to global warming. The rainforest absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But clearing the trees and burning them just adds to the problems. Loss of animal and plant species.
Video on rainforest destruction –