The Amazon rainforest spans 6.74 million sq. km taking in Brazil, Peru, Columbia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, Ecuador, and French Guiana. It is the world’s largest and most spectacular rainforest, representing over 40% of the world’s remaining tropical forests.
But despite the Amazon’s clearly vast expanse, human activity, including logging, agricultural expansion and infrastructure development, has destroyed a significant amount of forest since the 1960s. Humans have lived in the Amazon for thousands of years but the forest remained largely in tact until about 50 years ago.
Deforestation has been a rising problem for the past five decades or so and it’s estimated that around a fifth of the original forest is already gone. So why is this an issue and why should people living on the other side of the world care?
Well, first of all, the world’s rainforests are absolutely vital in slowing global warming as they absorb and store carbon dioxide. But once a tree is cut down and burnt or left to rot, the stored carbon is released back into the atmosphere. This means the trees that once helped reduce greenhouse gases now contribute to global warming instead. Deforestation is today responsible for around 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Furthermore, the rainforests are called rainforests for a reason. They play a vital part in regulating the climate by pumping large amounts of water vapour into the atmosphere and driving the regional water cycle. The Amazon acts like a global thermostat, cooling the air and generating rainfall, which is important for agriculture across South America.
The Amazon rainforest is also home to around 30 million people, including indigenous tribes who have depended on the forest for many generations. The Amazon is a vital source of food, shelter and livelihoods. Its destruction threatens access to these important resources as well as traditional ways of life.
However, deforestation in the Amazon isn’t just a risk to the future of humans. The rainforest is home to as much as one tenth of the Earth’s known species of plants and animals. Many of these can only be found in the Amazon and it is believed that thousands of species have yet to be discovered by science.
The rainforest is also a source of products that we value here in the UK, like cocoa, nuts, fruit and timber – not to mention the hundreds of plants that are used to treat illnesses, including cancer and heart problems Whilst all this seems pretty grim on the surface, the good news is that it really isn’t too late to make a difference. Thanks to high-tech satellite monitoring and both national and international initiatives to deter destructive activity such as illegal logging, recent reports indicate that deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is starting to slow,
That’s not to say we can afford sit back and watch. Unfortunately, a lot of the things we do here in the UK, such as the things we buy, the food we eat and the energy we use, are having a negative effect on the Amazon. By making changes, both small and large, in the way we live and by supporting initiatives to help protect rainforests, we can help put a stop to its destruction. The Amazon and all the other rainforests of the world are essential to people and species across the planet and it’s everyone’s duty to look after them.
Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/environment-articles/the-amazon-rainforest-globally-important-3192608.html
About the Author
Paul Buchanan writes for a digital marketing agency. This article has been commissioned by a client of said agency. This article is not designed to promote, but should be considered professional content.