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Economic Activity and the Environment Amazon Rainforest
Amazon Rainforest, South America, mainly Brazil
Causes, impacts and solutions of exploitation
Causes of deforestation are clearing of trees to make space for cattle ranching, and to use the
timber (woods like mahogany can reach up to £350-£400 a square metre), also clearing of the forest
too quickly causes the soil to become infertile meaning new trees and plants can no longer grow.
Solutions are sustainable, things like using the forest a little bit and then letting it grow back before
using it again this keeps the soil fertilised and healthy. Also using the forest sustainably conserves this
type of biome, like rubber tapping which doesn't harm the forest at all.
Goods include; Biomass for energy, food (nuts, fruit, fish), crops, water for drinking and irrigation,
Services include; Habitats for people and animals, pollination, jobs for people (rubber tapping), the
removal of C02 from the atmosphere, reducing global warming.
Logging: Rainforest trees are mainly hardwoods. These can be very lucrative on the international
market and as many of the countries of the world with tropical rainforests in them are LEDC's, it is a
market that they often exploit. Unfortunately, to get to certain types of tree, logging companies
destroy all the other vegetation around them.
Ranching: Large-scale forest clearance has taken place to make way for huge cattle ranches, as these
are also a lucrative industry for the country. The cattle quickly erode the fragile, and now
unprotected, soil. The farmers are not interested in the wood for sale, they often just burn it.
Damming: To provide power for industries such as the mines and papermills, large dam schemes
have been introduced. An example of this is the Tucurui Dam in the Northern Brazilian rainforest. The
reservoir it created flooded an area of 2875 square kilometres and displaced 40,000 people. It
destroyed hundreds of species of animals and thousands of species of plants, some of which may
never have actually been known about.
Subsistence Farming: The initial growth into the rainforests was along roads that were cut through
the dense vegetation. These encouraged people looking for a better way of life to enter the forest
and clear areas beside the roads for farming. They presumed that because the rainforest was so rich
with life, the soil would be very fertile. Unfortunately that is not the case, and within a few years the
farmers were forced to move on because the soil had become so bad. Not being able to afford to go
back to the cities on the Eastern coasts, most of these farmers end up copping down another area of
forest and starting again. Unfortunately the results are equally predictable.
Mining: the Northern Amazon rainforest is rich in minerals, such as bauxite, iron ore and even some
gold. This has meant that vast areas of rainforest have been cleared to allow mining to occur.
Settlements have grown up, such as Carajas and Manaus purely based on the mining industry.