Deforestation of the rainforest is an issue that we have been aware of for generations. From the widespread appearance of recycled paper in our shops, to the introduction of a study of deforestation in most secondary school syllabuses, this environmental issue has certainly made its presence felt. However, as one of the largest ecological studies of protected reserves in tropical countries across the globe now draws to a close, it is clear that the threat to our rainforests and the ecosystems that survive within them has far from vanished. In a report on this study, which appeared today in The Independent, it was revealed that, while the rainforest reserves themselves remain under protection from deforestation, over 85% of them have lost surrounding forestry in the last 2-3 decades, which has a knock-on- effect on the biodiversity and ecosystems of the reserves themselves. Maintaining the biological equilibrium of these reserves is vital, as if even the population of one species in this network animal and plant life becomes endangered, the whole system can be shaken to its core and ultimately risks collapse.
The causes of deforestation have not changed, the principal two being construction and farming. However, it appears that both of these threats to the rainforest continue to push at the limits set down by environmental protocol. In April this year, for example, a Brazilian company proposed to build a main road through the Isiboro-Secure reserve (Tipnis) in Bolivia, which, although eventually halted by widespread protests, causing the Bolivian President to revoke the construction company’s contract, shows constant pressure for the protection offered by rainforest reserves to be relinquished. Additionally, in June The Independent also reported that Greenpeace revealed that leading UK supermarket Tesco, sourced its canned beef from farms in deforested parts of the Amazon Rainforest.
While it is true that many governments and individuals have instigated a crackdown on reducing carbon emissions, in an attempt to reduce global warming, the fight against the destruction of the rainforest seems to have plateaued. The question is whether the two campaigns are really so disconnected. As noted by Greenpeace on their website, deforestation also contributes significantly to global warming, as natural wooded habitats are replaced with sun- reflecting concrete, and the natural recycling of carbon dioxide into oxygen by trees is lost. In a generation where environmental concerns are a high priority, it could also be useful to consider how each separate area for concern is connected and how efforts can be combined to alleviate today’s environmental problems.
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