December 3, 2011
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Deforestation in the tropical rainforests has been an international issue for many years. Rainforests are considered valuable natural resources by many, and have always been treasured by the indigenous peoples. Deforestation is the destruction of the resources of a natural forest. The current rate of deforestation in the world is 2.4 acres per second, which means that about every 26 minutes, an entire square mile is destroyed. Many people around the world agree that this is a major issue and that something needs to be done about it. However, some remain uninformed about exactly what is going on, and what is happening as a result: Rainforests are being destroyed, sometimes legally, by a variety of methods, and a variety of solutions have been proposed.

Experts say that about 90% of deforestation is caused by logging, which refers to the mass cutting down of trees. It is characterized by what is called ‘clear-cutting’: the removal of vast swaths of land simultaneously. Governments can grant a company permission to log in a certain area, with caution for the environment. Many corporations, however, choose to log illegally. This is because the hardwood can be sold for a very high price worldwide. Among the perpetrators are several Japanese timber companies as well as the French. There have also been reports of slavery, unpaid labor, and other illicit activities in combination with logging. Many companies also engage in “stealth logging”, or the chopping of only certain valuable trees, leaving so many others that it is nearly untraceable.

Some forms of logging are entirely legitimate, but still pose a threat to the environment. An example is the aforementioned logging grants. The governments of the countries themselves also often cut down the trees to build roads, to the great consternation of the indigenous people. Dams are also built. To react to the loss of their homes and heritage, the natives occasionally hold protests. Some will even take the issue to court. However, the cases are usually ruled in favor of the government. As a result, thousands of indigenous peoples are forced to leave their homelands, often migrating to urban areas, where they are utterly lost.

There are other forms of deforestation than logging, though they may not receive as much attention. Floods and other natural disasters can sweep away large sections of forests, as well as towns and villages. Sometimes, an epidemic will enter the region, breaking the ecosystem. As in the case of several tropical islands, the people living in the forests might be greatly impoverished. They will attempt to harvest any sort of resources that can be sold for a marginal profit, such as the chemicals produced by flying insects, which many hope can be used to create powerful medicine. Mining has also played a large part in rainforest destruction. For example, Brazil has recently experienced a gold rush in the Amazon, causing several big, illegal mining operations to spring up.

Deforestation is happening as the result of logging and other exploitations, occasionally legal, and people are being forced from their homes and heritage. Everyone has their own thoughts or solutions to the problem, but governments and countries as a whole are simply too impoverished to willingly abandon one of few attempts to regain wealth. It is absolutely up to the people of the world to entertain a single solution, and then act on it. On the whole, it is impossible to tell whether the rainforests will be salvaged until after they are saved… or aren’t

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