Often, when rainforests are clear-cut, the land is used for cattle grazing. The cattle are then sold to developed countries for meat consumption since most individuals in developing countries cannot afford to buy meat. In both scenarios, it is the developed countries that create the consumer demands that cause rainforest destruction.
The rainforests are very important to the world for a variety of reasons (Kristula, 1997). One major reason is that the plants in the forest change carbon dioxide into clean air, which fights pollution. In addition, by absorbing carbon dioxide, the rainforests help deter the greenhouse effect. The trees of the rainforest store carbon dioxide in their roots, stems, branches, and leaves.
The plants and animals of the rainforest also provide human beings with food, fuel wood, shelter, jobs, and medicines (Kristula, 1997). "Image losing the potential cure for cancer or AIDS that might have been found in an undiscovered plant from the rainforest," says the Tropical Rainforest Coalition (1996).
It is an increasingly widespread belief that the rainforest houses important plants that will cure the worst diseases of today (Kristula, 1997). Although there is scientific proof of its value, the rainforest continues to be cut down. According to the National Forest Association of Forest Industries (1996), "there are about 4 billion hectares of forest in the world, of which about 25% is tropical rainforest."
The rainforest provides many benefits to the areas surrounding it and far beyond (Kristula, 1997). "Only 20% of the nutrients of the rainforest are in the soil; 80% of the nutrients remain in the trees and plants. The rainwater of the forest is recycled by evaporation. Clouds above the forest's canopy help reflect sunlight which keeps temperatures within the forest to remain more stable."
However, the soil of the rainforests is only suitable for being rainforest soil, crops do not grow well in it. "When forests are cut down, the soil erodes quickly and soon only a dry desert remains," according to Kristula (1997).
One of the main reasons for destruction of the rainforests is logging (Kristula, 1997). Trees from the rainforest are used to build houses, make furniture, and provide pulp for paper products, such as newspapers and magazines. Rainforest that was destroyed can grow back over time, but they will never have the same variety of plants and animals they once did.
Corporations have convinced many rainforest countries that it would improve their economies to allow companies to use the land, and now these countries economies have become dependent on it (Kristula, 1997). With this vicious cycle, the rainforest does not stand a chance.
Many stakeholders argue that cutting down rainforests is necessary for economic development. In many of the countries where rainforests are being destroyed, citizens live in poverty. Logging the rainforests creates many jobs, which help the poor people of the areas in which the forests exist. The loggers, the truck drivers, and the shippers all are employed because of the logging industry.
In addition, loggers argue, once the land is cleared it can be used for more productive things. Farmers can grow crops on the land and ranchers can raise cattle. A third arguments is that the wood itself is useful for a variety of things, including providing wood for housing, fuel, furniture, and many other everyday items.
In conclusion, sustainable development of the rainforests will probably not be achieved until issues like poverty and consumer demands are resolved. Laws to protect the rainforest currently exist in developing countries, but enforcement is difficult due to the cost of patrolling the rainforests. As long as meat and wood exports bring in the necessary income to developing countries, sustainable development of the rainforests is not likely to be exercised.
National Association of Forest Industries, the. (1996). The world's rainforests. Forests Today. Retrieved from the Internet at http://www.nafi.com.au/faq/rainforests.html.
Tropical Rainforest Coalition. (1996). Adopt-an-acre. The Tropical Rainforest Coalition.
Retrieved from the Internet at http://www.rainforest.org/acre/adoptanacre.html.
Highland Park Elementary School. (1995). Rainforest Destruction. Retrieved from the Internet at http://www.hipark.austin.isd.tenet.edu/projects/fourth/rainforests/environment.html.
Peter van der Hout and Godfrey Marshall. (August, 2004). Training in reduced impact logging in Guyana. Guyana Forestry Training Centre. FAO of the United Nations.
Kristula, David. (January, 1997). Rainforests: Diversity and Destruction. Retrieved from the Internet at http://www.davesite.com/rainforests/index.shtml#top.
Wheeling Jesuit University/Center for Educational Technologies (WJU). (2004). Sustainable Development. Retrieved from the Internet at http://www.cet.edu/earthinfo/camerica/maya/MBtopic3.html.