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Every day we print something on a piece of paper; every day we sit on our living room
furniture or at our desk that is made of wood. However, do we ever actually stop to think about
where that paper or wood is coming from? Much of the wood comes from rainforests. Every
year the rainforests are slowly disappearing due to deforestation.
Deforestation is the process
of cutting down and removing trees. Deforestation occurs in rainforest every day, destroying 80
acres every minute. Rainforest once covered 16% of the entire Earth’s land surface and it now
covers less than 6%. Deforestation takes place in Brazil, West Africa, Indonesia, Thailand,
Columbia, and several other areas. There are many reasons and factors that support the
progress of deforestation. Poverty and the need for farmland, and logging are just a few of the
major causes of deforestation.

Unfortunately the countries that are blessed with rainforests are low social economical
countries where poverty is a major concern. Deforestation means money and their need for
monetary funds to support themselves and their family is greater than their need for a
rainforest. Saving the trees comes second to supporting the family. In Peru, Jaime Lopez, a
tribal leader had a difficult time convincing those in his community not to sell to illegal loggers
who came offering hard cash.

These same countries are in dire need of farmland and pastures to grow crops and raise
live stock in order to meet daily needs. Once loggers have finished in an area and moved on the
rainforest land is slashed and burned to convert into farmland or pastures. There is an old
saying that if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day, but if you teach a man to fish you
feed him forever. Farmland and pastures are necessary to help these countries become self
sufficient. However it comes with a high price, the loss of our rainforests.

Logging legally or illegally is another factor in the deforestation of the earth’s
rainforests. Over 80% of the world’s rainforest have been destroyed and degraded by logging.
There are “Safe” logging practices enforced by the timber industries such as selective logging.
The companies cut down mature trees and plant saplings in their place for growth to occur
naturally. However, a major problem with this process is that large areas of land are
damaged due to the intermingling of roots; if one tree is cut down up to seventeen other trees
may be damaged. The combination of heavy machinery and the removing of trees by the
timber industry causes extensive damage to this fragile environment. Although, with
selective logging there is a minor chance that the forest can regrow.

These major factors of deforestation come attached with major consequences. They
lead to the death of many animal species known and unknown, and to the stop to medical
advances.
As the rainforests are destroyed animals lose their habitats and their food source
leading to their deaths and extinction. Also many plants have been destroyed, many of which
contain chemical compounds that are known cures to many incurable diseases such as cancers
and Aids.
In 1987 a tree compound found in a Malaysian gum tree was 100% effective against the
HIV-1 virus. However, when research biologist returned to get more samples from the
tree, it had already been cut down. Unfortunately, no tree since has produced the same
compound. If deforestation continues mankind may lose the cure to two of the world’s most
fatal diseases.

There are many solutions to the deforestation of our earth’s rainforests. As an
individual, many people think that there is little that they can do to stop a problem of this
magnitude. This type of thinking needs to be stopped. Recycling paper can slow rates of
deforestation. The largest component of solid waste in the U.S is paper and cardboard. It makes
sense to recycle; it saves trees and our rainforests. Sending emails to companies that are
responsible for deforestation may seem weak and a waste of time, but it lets those companies
know that you don’t support what they are doing. And who knows, maybe you might be the
one person that they listen to. Another solution is to petition our government to establish and
pass import laws limiting the amount of wood that can be imported each year. Brazil’s
president insists that Western nations have caused more environmental destruction in the past
then farmers and loggers have to the rainforests. He recommends that Western nations pay
the Amazon nations to prevent deforestation. Advertisements through commercials, articles,
and rallies are also great ways to educate our community about this worldwide problem. If we
work together we can make a difference. We can make a change for the better.

The rainforests need our help; the animals of the rainforests need our help. They can’t
speak for themselves. They can’t defend their homes against machinery and humans that
threaten to destroy them. It’s up to us; it’s up to all of us who care about our planet, its
well being and all of its inhabitants to take a stand to stop deforestation.





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