Unsustainable Resource Development in the Rainforest

Refers to AQA A2 Geography

Ecosystems: Change and Challenge Option

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  • Unsustainable Resource Development in the Rainforest
    • Farming
      • Settlers clear small forest plots, often by burning, for the PERMENANT cultivation of food and CASH CROPS
        • Includes Coffee and Palm Oil
        • Not subsistance farming by tribes such as the Yanomami, which is more sustainable as it involves polyculture, mimicing the biodiversity of the forest.
      • Declining yields due to soil exhaustion results in the abandonment of plots.
        • Plots become secondary forest with poor biodiversity due to lack of nutrients and seeds in the vicinity.
        • Plots may also become poor quality grassland for cattle ranching for low-grade meat.
      • Commercial soya production occupies large parts of former rainforest in Amazonia (CASH CROPS - mainly for animal feed)
    • Logging
      • Extraction of valuable hardwood trees such as Teak, Mahogony and Ebony
        • Used for furniture e.g. hardwearing garden benches made from 'tropical hardwood'
      • The process of logging destroys other, non-commercial species, degrading the forest ecosystem.
        • Further destuction as roads are built to provide access.
      • Logging is often illeagal, and, without replanting of young trees, is UNSUST - AINABLE
    • Dam Building
      • Huge areas of forest are flooded by dams built to generate hydro-electric power.
      • Construction of dams also adds to deforestation e.g. road building for access.
      • The Tucururi Dam, Brazil, is an example.
        • Rainforest not cleared, river diverted and left to flood area.
          • Poisoned the water - chemicals etc.
    • Mining
      • Open-cast mining for iron and aluminum ore results in localized destruction of the rainforest
      • Toxic chemicals may pollute rivers and enter food chains.
    • Road Building
      • Creates access to the rainforest for economic activities such as farming and mining
        • Further accelerates rates of development and deforestation
    • Impact Statistics
      • 1 million square km of rainforest destroyed between 2000 and 2005
      • Worldwide coverage over 200 years has fallen from 14% to 6%


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