Rainforests and Deforestation
Orangutans and Other Endangered Species
Despite being one of humans closest relatives, Orangutans are on the brink of extinction due to mans activities. Deforestation is one of the main threats to Orangutans and it is estimated that if the current rate of deforestation continues we are due to completely eliminate our tree inhabiting cousins within the next 25 years. Especially in Indonesia and Malaysia rainforests are being torn down rapidly, and in many cases illegally, and the native apes are being killed in their masses. It’s estimated that only 54,000 Bornean orangutans and 6,600 Sumatran orangutans remain in the wild and the orangutan population has decreased by 90% over the last 100 years. The lush rainforests are also home to many other endangered species such as tigers, elephants and rhinos and it has one of the biggest number of plants, trees, birds and animals per acre in the world. Mans greed and ignorance is causing the habitats of all these beautiful animals to be destroyed and with the demand for resources being as high as it is there is little time to consider the welfare of the environment. Experts estimate that we are losing 137 plant, animal and insect species every day due to deforestation.
‘Slash and Burn’
Much of the deforestation that occurs is for the sake of setting up palm oil plantations and people setting up these plantations tend to use a method called the ‘slash and burn method’ (yes it is as horrible as it sounds). The slash and burn method is where the trees, vegetation and the homes of these animals are cut down and then anything that remains is set fire to. The ash from this is then used as a fertilizer for crops, the slash and burn method is also popular among local farmers. The slash and burn techniques used can set fire to coal and pete buried deep in the ground which can escalate the fires further.
Main Reasons for Deforestation
Forests are cut down for many reasons, most of which are money related. Logging is a big driver of deforestation, operations which provide the world with paper and wood cause the cutting down of countless amounts of trees every day. The value of rainforest land is perceived only by the value of its timbre, not by its animals, plants or other species. Many loggers act illegally and build roads to access more and more remote forest areas, this causes more and more deforestation to occur. It’s a pretty horrible cycle right?
The Amazonian rainforest in particular is rich in minerals such as iron ore, bauxite, manganese, diamonds, silver and gold. Mining companies cut down huge areas of forest to build roads and railways and to set up their establishments.
Rapid population growth and the rising of living standards mean a higher demand for food, fuels, minerals and hardwoods such as ebony and mahogany.
Also farmers clear acres and acres of land, normally using the slash and burn method, in order to have room to raise livestock or crops. All of these things are big contributors to the destruction of the rainforests.
Although rainforests only cover 2% of the earth they provide a home to 2/3 of all living species on the planet. Also almost half the every day medicinal compounds we use come from plants that are native to the rainforest, if there were to be a cure for cancer or aids it's bound to be found somewhere in the rainforests right? We should stop exploiting them and start conserving them before it's too late as more than an 1.5 acres are lost every second of every day! Humans greed and ignorance is going to result in the extinction of so many endangered and beautiful species if we don't do something about it now!