The Amazon Rainforest

The Amazon Rainforest
• A moist broadleaf forest
(in the Amazon Basin of South America)
• Total area of Amazon Basin :
7 million square km²
( the forest itself occupies 5.5 million km²)
• located within 9 nations: Brazil (with 60% of the
rainforest), Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador,
Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana.
• The Amazon represents over half of the planet's
remaining rainforests and comprises the largest
and most species-rich tract of tropical rainforest
in the world.
A map showing the location of the Amazon Rainforest
( yellow line enclosed )
Map of the Amazon Basin in
South America
People in the Amazon Rainforest
Kaiapo Indians in the
Brazilian Amazon
Kaiapo mother and child, Brazil
Kaiapo father with child
in the Amazon, Brazil
Deforestation in the Amazon:
• Deforestation :
forested areas converse to non-forested areas.
• The main sources of deforestation in the
Amazon are human settlement and
development of the land
• Between 1991 and 2000, the total area of forest
lost in the Amazon rose from 415,000 to
587,000 km²  twice the size of Portugal
with most of the lost forest becoming pasture for
History of deforestation and farming system
of the Amazon:
when the colonists established farms within the forest during the
1600s. Their farming system was based on crop cultivation and
the slash and burn method.
The colonists were unable to successfully manage their fields and
the crops
because  loss of soil fertility and weed invasion.
soils in the Amazon are productive for just a short period of time,
and the farmers are therefore constantly moving and clearing
more and more land
However the results of the farming :
 extensive deforestation and caused extensive environmental
Slash and burn
• cutting and burning of forest or woodlands to create
fields for agriculture or pasture for livestock, or for a
variety of other purposes.
• Historically, the practice of slash and burn has been
widely used throughout most of the world,but the
practice has been mostly abandoned over the past
few centuries
• The land is being cleared for cattle ranches,
mining operations, logging, and subsistence
agriculture. Some forests are being burned to make
charcoal to power industrial plants.
• Native peoples of the Amazon rainforest have used
different plants for centuries as cures and potions for
their health and survival.
According to
National Institute
of Space
the original
rainforest biome
in Brazil of
4,100,000 km²
was reduced to
3,403,000 km² by
Causes of Deforestation in the Amazon:
Figures for specific causes of deforestation in the Amazon
are spotty at best. Below are some rough estimated ranges,
based on published data, informal surveys, and other
Cattle ranches
Small-scale, subsistence agriculture
Large-scale, commercial agriculture
Logging, legal and illegal
Fires/mining/urbanization/road construction/dams 2-4%
(Selective logging and fires that burn under the forest canopy commonly
result in forest degradation, not deforestation. Therefore these factor
less in overall deforestation figures.)
The above pie chart showing deforestation in the Amazon by cause is based on the median figures for estimate ranges.
* The annual rate of deforestation has continued to increase from 1990
to 2003, because …
(a) Profit form soybeans:
Brazil (second-largest global producer of soybeans)
 as prices for soybeans rise  the soy farmers are pushing
northwards into forested areas of the Amazon.
( As stated in Brazilian legislation, clearing land for crops or fields is
considered an ‘effective use’ of land and is the beginning towards
land ownership.
(b) Profit form reselling the land:
Cleared property is also valued 5–10 times more than forested land
and for that reason valuable to the owner whose ultimate objective
is resale
Consequences of deforestation in
the Amazon
The Caribbean could be vulnerable to increased hurricane activity if deforestation of the
Amazon rainforest is not stopped
Working with religious leaders, scientists and politicians, Lelei LeLaulu, the president of
Counterpart International, spoke on the effects that deforestation of the Amazon could
have in the Caribbean, and the gulf states of America and Mexico.
He said: “The scientists are telling us forest deforestation of the Amazon leads to a
failure if forest transpiration, the forest pumps, leaving heat in the southern north Atlantic
which in turn gives birth to more extreme hurricanes in the Caribbean.”
Currently, more than one fifth of the Amazon rainforest has been destroyed and,
according to a Brazilian congressional committee, the Amazon is vanishing at a rate of
52,000 square kilometres per year(20,000 miles per year). With these figures, the
rainforest would be completely destroyed by the year 2050.
LeLaulu said: “ We are now able to explain why the sea temperature of the southern
north Atlantic has been rising, giving birth to more extreme hurricanes which ravage the
Caribbean and north America.”
Amazon Conservation
Rehabilitation and increased productivity
of formerly forested lands
-Increasing productivity of cleared rainforest
lands by using improved technology to generate
higher yielding crops.
-produce grasses and crops that will grow on
degraded forest soils
-According to the World Wildlife Fund for Nature,
the species has recovered "from a low of 200
wild animals recorded in the early 1970s ...[to its]
1,000th wild birth in March 2001."
• Expansion of protection areas
ensuring sufficient enforcement
agencies and funding exist for the
maintenance of protected areas
encouraging the involvement of locals
• Development based on concepts
of sustainable use of some existing
e.g. Restrict the trade of certain rainforest tree
species (Selective logging)
Eliminate tax incentives and land policies which
encourage conversion of forest to pasture.
Increase productivity on existing pastureland
Conservation ?
• Some environmentalists commonly state :
1 hectare in the Peruvian Amazon has been calculated
to have a value of $6820 if intact forest is sustainably
harvested for fruits, latex, and timber; $1000 if clearcut for commercial timber (not substainably harvested);
or $148 if used as cattle pasture.
However, the assumptions of this study have been
widely challenged.
• From 2002 to 2006, the conserved land in the Amazon
Rainforest has almost tripled and deforestation rates
have dropped up to 60%.

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