Rainforest Destruction Of Rainforests By Man The Thesis

Length: 7 pages Sources: 5 Subject: Animals Type: Thesis Paper: #26147948 Related Topics: Deforestation, Ecosystem, Tiger Woods, Rain Forest
Excerpt from Thesis :

Rainforest Destruction

Destruction of Rainforests by Man

The rainforest is one of several types of forest found throughout the tropics, and each type has different characteristics. The closed forests account for about half of the total area of tropical forest (around 62 per cent of the natural tropical forest) and comprise two types of continuous tree cover (Table 1.1). Eleven-twelfths of the closed forests, by area, are tropical moist forests and the rest are deciduous and semi-deciduous forests of various types. About two-thirds of the moist forests are tropical rainforests, composed of evergreen broadleaved trees which flourish in the high temperature and humidity of the low latitudes. The tropical moist deciduous forests (or monsoon forests) grow on the fringes of the tropical rainforests, and lose their leaves in the dry season (Ehrlich & Ehrlich, 2002).

Thesis Statement: Rainforests can never be replaced once we have lost them.

Table 1.1 Distribution of tropical forest types

Forest type

Total area (million km2)


Closed forests



Tropical moist forests

Tropical rainforests


Tropical moist deciduous forests



Deciduous and semi-deciduous forests



Open woodland



Fallow forests



Tropical forest plantations



Industrial plantations



Non-industrial plantations




Source: World Resources Institute (2008).

Most of the remaining tropical forests are open woodland, including shrublands and types of savanna, pasture and grassland which are partly wooded. Almost all (97 per cent) of the tropical forests which have been modified by human activity are fallow forests, areas which have recently been farmed and then abandoned or left to regenerate naturally. Only a very small area is covered by tropical forest plantations. The industrial plantations produce commercial timber, pulpwood or charcoal; the non-industrial plantations are mainly for fuel wood production or environmental protection.


The tropical rainforests provide a discontinuous belt of green around the globe, between the tropic of Cancer (23.5° north) and the tropic of Capricorn (23.5° south). Dense rainforest is the natural climax vegetation of the hot, humid tropical zone and it flourishes particularly in the lower latitudes (between 10° north and south of the equator). Just under half of the tropical zone (49 per cent according to the World Resources Institute) is covered by forests.

Most of the tropical countries with surviving rainforests are developing countries, for which the forests provide a valuable capital asset. The total area presently covered by tropical rainforests is estimated at 12 million km2, which accounts for nearly a third of the world's forests (covering roughly 30 million km2). The distribution of forests within the tropics is uneven, reflecting the distribution of land and sea and the impacts of this on climatic boundaries. The latitudinal boundaries of the rainforest are determined mainly by precipitation, while altitudinal limits are determined more by temperature (Ellis, 2008). Some rainforests thrive beyond the 10° north and south latitudes, where high rainfall encourages forest growth. Such patches occur in Central America, the north-east coast of Australia and the great valleys of southern China.

The main rainforests today are found in three areas Latin America, Western Equatorial Africa and South-East Asia. Latin America houses the American Formation which is dominated by the Amazon and Orinoco Basins. It has over half (56 per cent) of the world total, much of it (3.31 million km2, 48 per cent of the area's total) in Brazil and the rest in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and French Guiana. Amazonia is the world's largest and most important surviving rainforest. The remaining rainforests are scattered in sixteen countries in West and Central Africa (18 per cent of the world total) and South-East Asia (25 per cent of the world total). The African Formation includes the Cameroons and the Congo Basin in countries such as Gabon, Zaire and Madagascar. The Indo-Malaysian Formation in South-East Asia includes parts of western and southern India, the Far East (especially in Indonesia (Eden, 2006) particularly Borneo and Papua New Guinea -- which now has about 10 per cent of the world's remaining tropical rainforest) and north Australia.

Destruction of the Rainforest: Rates of Loss

The rainforests are under attack. These rich and complex ecosystems, which have survived millions of years of natural environmental change (indeed they have flourished through it), are now facing a fight for survival. The hands of people are inflicting more damage on the rainforests in a matter of years than the entire forces of nature have done over geological time-scales. Norman Myers, an international expert on rainforests, pointed out early in 1990 that 'at issue is the most exuberant expressions of nature that has ever graced the face of the planet during four billion years of


Within just another 40 years at most, we may see the last remnants fall to the chainsaw and the matchbox.' The timetable is open to debate; that the fight for survival is on is not.

Shrinking Forests

We have already seen some evidence that today's rainforests are shrunken remnants of much larger forests from the ancient past. These survivors represent the outcome of long periods of climatic change; they are natural distributions, in equilibrium with today's climatic constraints in the tropics. But even that picture reflects a theoretical distribution rather than an actual pattern of vegetation on the ground. The maps of world vegetation distribution, for example, show climatic climax vegetation -- what should exist under prevailing climate, in the absence of damaging human activities, rather than what does exist. There is little doubt that many areas shown on the maps as rainforest no longer have natural forest cover, having been cleared for one reason or another. Disparities between theoretical and actual distributions of rainforest reflect human disturbance of the forest habitat. This comes in two forms. Degradation involves complete loss of the forest, which might be cut down and replaced by open woodland or agriculture. The loss is permanent. Depletion involves some change to the forest ecosystem, but not complete removal. Some plant and animal species are lost, but forest remains (albeit a much-modified forest). Natural regeneration can re-establish the forest ecosystem, given a long enough periods without further depletion. Both forms of disturbance of rainforests are widespread, but degradation poses the greatest threat.

Early Clearance

What is more certain is that clearance of the rainforest has been going on for a long time. There is evidence of clearance for agriculture at least 3,000 years ago in Africa, 7,000 years ago in South and Central America and possibly 9,000 years ago in India and New Guinea (Flenley, 2005). Traditional forms of forest clearance by burning were small-scale and localized and they had relatively little impact on the overall extent, distribution and character of the rainforests. Indeed they may even have contributed to development of the diversity of species.

More recent exploration of the rainforests, prompted by the search for commercially useful resources as well as by land hunger, started the irreversible tide of forest destruction and clearance. Early episodes were small-scale and isolated. During the fifteenth century, for example, groups of English and Dutch migrants lured by a gold rush looked to the Brazilian Amazon to meet their need for food and charcoal. Forest species were exploited for food; trees were felled and burned for charcoal. In the eighteenth century parcels of rainforest were cleared from the hills of central Minas, in eastern Brazil, to create land for cattle ranching. Soil depletion and erosion quickly followed. More widespread exploitation of the rainforests began during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as demand started to grow in the western world for tropical plantation crops.

Losses and Losers

Some of what is lost when rainforests are cut down or burned reflects their intrinsic value. Most of us are never likely to be able to set foot in a real rainforest, but that is not the issue. What matters is that the rainforest is important quite simply because it is there. Whether or not it has some inalienable right to survive is a debating point in moral philosophy; the fact that we would miss it if it disappeared completely is a matter of human nature and sensitivity. The extrinsic values of rainforest are easier to quantify and thus they form the basis of any evaluation of the impacts of deforestation. Whatever utilitarian interest we might have in nature's richest ecological storehouse (including many interests we were probably totally unaware of, such as using drugs and medications derived directly from rainforest products), we are all losers as the remaining forest reserves dwindle and disappear (Bunker, 2000).

Inevitably the most direct losers are the people for whom the rainforest is a home. Traditionally an estimated 50 million people live in the world's rainforests. These are mainly tribal peoples whose lifestyles and cultures are tightly interwoven with the natural cycles and processes of the forest, and who have adapted over many generations to life in the forest. Here we concentrate on the main impacts of deforestation, which include the loss of biodiversity and natural resources, loss…

Sources Used in Documents:


Aiken, S.R. And C.H. Leigh (2006) Land use conflicts and rainforest conservation in Malaysia and Australia. Land Use Policy 3:161-79.

Bunker, S.C. (2000) Development and the destruction of human and natural environments in the Brazilian Amazon. Environment 22:14-20, 34-43.

Burley, F.W. (1985) Plan to reverse destruction of tropical forests released by international task force. Environmental Conservation 12:365-6.

Denevan, W.M. (2003) Development and imminent demise of the Amazon rainforest. Professional Geographer 25:130-5.

Cite this Document:

"Rainforest Destruction Of Rainforests By Man The" (2011, February 26) Retrieved August 4, 2021, from

"Rainforest Destruction Of Rainforests By Man The" 26 February 2011. Web.4 August. 2021. <

"Rainforest Destruction Of Rainforests By Man The", 26 February 2011, Accessed.4 August. 2021,

Related Documents
Rainforests - Environmental Challenges in
Words: 2153 Length: 7 Pages Topic: Animals Paper #: 61578857

Certain traits must be present for any attempt at a shift in use of resources to work. First, the new use must hold the potential for greater income than what the people were doing. There must be some incentive for them to learn new skills First, such attempts must promise better returns than the alternative practice and second, they need to be evaluated for how they fit into the set of

Diminishing Wilderness Most People Are
Words: 1320 Length: 4 Pages Topic: Animals Paper #: 82952017

However, not all biologists agree that building or preserving corridors is the best way to proceed, because it still allows much of the animal's habitat to be diverted for human use (Thwaites, PAGE). They suggest that corridors are an expensive solution, but often those biologists prefer to see less land diversion. Another solution is voluntary conservation efforts, called "Habitat Conservation Plans" (HCPs). Since these are voluntary, however, they vary greatly

Carbon Trading. The Writer Examines
Words: 4229 Length: 16 Pages Topic: Animals Paper #: 68918995

But the supply far outstrips demand, Europeans are finding. The climate of this marketplace itself is decidedly cloudy. Advance prices have plunged by half. At this point, one shouldn't portray it as a liquid, vibrant market," said Atle C. Christiansen of PointCarbon, a Norway-based research firm (Climate, 2004). More than six years after governments negotiated the historic climate accord in Kyoto, Japan, the world is taking only halting steps _ not always

Poisoning Our Planet if It
Words: 8834 Length: 20 Pages Topic: Animals Paper #: 68794962

From the point-of-view of the variation and flexibility of the species such cultivated woody crops rank as no more than cornfields. While the tree farms are conveniently be stretched on the private lands, national forests those are considered priceless reservoirs of most of the biological diversity of the nation cannot expand so easily. The commercial logging is considered as the greatest danger for survival of the national forest system.

Humans on Ecology- Deforestation in Brazil Humans
Words: 2049 Length: 6 Pages Topic: Animals Paper #: 27107513

Humans on Ecology- Deforestation in Brazil Humans have been supposedly trying to protect the eco-system and environment for a long time. However without realizing, they themselves are causing the most destruction by their ill-planned moves and carelessness. Deforestation is one the most cruel steps taken by man to damage ecology and endanger the lives of fellow beings. Rainforests once covered 15% of the earth. That number has been reduced to 6%.

Worldwide Population Increase Affect Planet the World
Words: 2502 Length: 8 Pages Topic: Transportation - Environmental Issues Paper #: 65709895

Worldwide Population Increase Affect Planet The world population is a lucrative endeavor that has influential effects on the immediate environment. One of the changing or growing avenues of the planet is that of the enlargement of the human population. Initially, the human population was perceived as a small entity within a vast planet. Nonetheless, the human population has been on the increase over the past centuries. Many lucrative approaches and