The tropical rainforests currently face a high number of threats, pushing many forests to the brink of destruction. It is estimated that 30 to 50 million acres of rainforests are destroyed every year due to deforestation and fires. This roughly equals around 20 to 50 acres of rainforest destroyed every minute of the day. If this destruction is allowed to continue, around 80 percent of the tropical rainforests and their eco-systems will be gone by the year 2020.
What is Causing the Damage?
There are several different dangers facing the tropical rainforests today. Some of the main reasons are farming, mining and logging industries. Since the world population continues to climb, so does the demand for wood and wood products. The rainforests are quickly being destroyed as industries attempt to keep up with the world demand.
One of the most dangerous problems within the rainforest is the logging and timber industry. There is an extreme demand for hardwoods, such as Mahogany, Rosewood, and Teak. These woods are used to make furniture, flooring, charcoal and other building materials. After trees are cut down, logging companies bring in huge machinery to harvest the logs. Additionally, after the initial logs are collected, different species of trees are harvested to supply materials included in cardboard and wooden chipboards. Cutters chop down over 100 trees within minutes and turn them to mulch that is carried away by dump trucks.
Thousands of acres of rainforest are cut and burned each year to provide additional land for cattle ranching. Local farmers operate ranches on grazing lands with extremely poor soil due to previous damage created by logging industries. After trees are cut down by loggers, the barren area is sewn with grass seed. However, the soil is so damaged and nutrient poor; it is grazed by the cattle within a matter of days. This poor soil quickly forces ranchers to clear additional land for their cattle.
The recent expansion of industrial soy farms are a result of high commodity prices and an improved financial state of Brazil. These large-scale farms create a need for road-building and other modern infrastructure, which leads to land surveying, colonization and other types of damaging expansion within the forests. Deforestation has increased on a massive scale in the last five to ten years with no slowing down in sight.
Supply and Demand of China
With the emergence of China as an economic giant, the tropical rainforests have become further impacted. With an astronomical population, China is the world’s number one consumer of raw materials. Half of all the timber shipped in the world finds its way to China. Most of the timber is shipped to China in the form of uncut logs, which are then converted into wood furniture. The newly created furniture is then shipped to various markets around the world. With such an extreme demand for these uncut logs, China is not concerned with timber harvesting methods or eco-friendly practices within the rainforests.