Saving the rain forest was a hot topic in the late ’80s, but the issue isn’t in the news as often these days. However, deforestation is still a huge problem, despite the efforts of various conservation projects.
Rising Rates of Deforestation
Although conservation efforts succeeded in slowing deforestation, that success was fleeting, and rates have been on the rise since 2013. According to a report in The Guardian, the rate of deforestation increased by 29 percent in 2013, with 5,000 square kilometers of precious forest being destroyed. Demand for lucrative crops; such as soy, palm oil, corn and sugar cane, is partly to blame for the destruction. Agricultural economists predict that these crops could swallow up another 10.5 million hectares of the Brazilian rainforest by 2023, potentially spelling disaster for the already shrinking region.
Cattle Ranchers Clear the Rain Forest
Another problem the rain forest is facing is demand for grazing land for cattle. A 2009 Greenpeace report titled “Slaughtering the Amazon” identified cattle ranching as the world’s largest driver of deforestation. This report states that cattle accounted for 80 percent of the deforestation occurring in the Amazon basin in 2009. That is potentially a huge problem for the planet’s climate, as rain forests store large amounts of carbon which could otherwise fuel the greenhouse effect, leading to climate change. The rain forest is also home to a huge number of animal and plant species, some of which could be in serious danger of extinction if their natural habitat is destroyed.
Although other headlines have crowded out the issue in recent years, the destruction of the Amazon rain forest is still a serious issue. Therefore, those who care about the future of the planet’s natural environment need to stay engaged.