Not Just the Rainforest

Let’s face it. We’ve all heard, read or been told about the Amazon. Whether it is the deforestation, biodiversity or the sheer beauty, there’s always something that is currently talked about in the media.

Map courtesy of

The Amazon, known more correctly as the Amazon River Basin, covers over forty percent of the South American continent and is located in nine different countries. Mostly known for the rainforest, the Amazon also has savannas, seasonal forests and deciduous forests. The Amazon is one of the most biodiverse places on earth; it is home to about 2.5 million species (including indigenous peoples)—some found only in the Amazon. It is known to house the largest collection of living flora and fauna and more are still undiscovered.

Deforestation is one of the main issues surrounding the Amazon. Over the past 40 years, more than 232,000 square miles of forest have been lost, though the highest rate of deforestation occurred during the nineties and early-2000’s. Industrial logging, pastures for cattle and large-scale farming have contributed to most of this loss. Many acres of what used to be rainforest have been converted to what is considered to be the most economically beneficial use. Though the rainforest has many important uses as en ecosystem, it could be sustainably harvested for fruits, timber and latex without having to be torn down. This idea for sustainable harvesting would also help to prevent the loss of one of the rainforest’s most beneficial jobs—greenhouse gas consumption. Because of the sheer size of the amazon, it is one of the largest consumers of greenhouse gas. Though deforestation could affect the rate of consumption and affect the future of climate change. Deforestation is an important subject concerning the Amazon.

Tim Philips discusses another significant issue for The Guardian UK; he reports that the president of Brazil has passed a law that could give squatters in the Amazon rights to the land that they occupy. Though this will benefit many landless Brazilians, it will also harm the environment. Some environmentalists have named it the “land-gabbers bill” because it will “offer a carte blanche for those wanting to make money by destroying the Amazon.” Provisional Measure 458 essentially encourages deforestation; once an owner has possession of the land he or she can do whatever with it. Though some parts of the bill did not pass originally, the majority of the bill did pass. It is effectively open access, with little incentive to protect the landscape or use it in a sensible manner.

The protection and conservation of the Amazon is not only vital for the protection of the diverse species that call it home, but also for the protection for future generations. One organization that has helped to protect the amazon is ACT (Amazon Conservation Team), they have helped to connect the indigenous people to protected areas and map a significant portion of the Amazon. Though deforestation has slowed in the past decade, it is still a serious topic for discussion. The conservation of this ecosystem is vital for the issue of climate change and the protection of the Amazon’s biodiversity.


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