“The technology and advances in every possible field
May 24, 2019
“The impacts go way beyond the tropics – the United Kingdom and Hawaii could see an increase in rainfall, while the US Midwest and Southern France could see a decline,” said Professor Lawrence, of the University of Virginia. In this new age of technology and advances in every possible field of study, many people forget about the environment. Some will just throw their trash all over the place with no concern for the possible consequences. Of course, there are many consequences, but only one truly affects the nearby organisms which is habitat destruction. Between 80,000 and 316,000 square kilometres are lost every year from the need for transportation extension, agricultural expansion, hardwood harvest, and infrastructure expansion in rainforests and nearby ecosystems. Habitat destruction in rainforests are a real issue that needs to be addressed, it is caused by human activities which could easily be prevented or slowed down.Not only has the average temperature of Earth risen, but as have sea levels and extreme weather cases. Without the help of rainforests, different areas of the world may experience heavy rainfall that could end in disastrous floods and landslides while others can go without seeing rain for months. Deforestation and habitat destruction of rainforests in West Africa or the Congo could reduce rainfall across the region by 40-50% while clearing 40% of the Amazon Basin which decreases wet-season rainfall by 12%, and dry-season rainfall by 21% (Morello, 2012). Complete destruction of the Amazon Basin would likely reduce rainfall in the US Midwest, Northwest and parts of the south during the agricultural season. The complete destruction of Central African rainforests would likely cause declines in rainfall in the Gulf of Mexico and parts of the US Midwest and Northwest and increase it on the Arabian Peninsula. The combination of human activities – such as land clearing for agriculture and logging – and climate change increases the drying effect of dead trees that fuels forests fires. The seasonality of rainfall has shifted due to deforestation in Brazil. Meteorological stations in Rondônia, Brazil indicate that the wet season has been delayed by 11 days in deforested regions while it has not changed in forested areas over the last 30 years. In addition, it is estimated that trees in tropical rainforests lower the temperature by 3.6 (-15.8 celsius) to 6.3 (-14.63 celsius) degrees Fahrenheit (Michael G., 2001). All things considered, models suggest that by the year 2050, temperatures in the Amazon will increase by 2–3°C.Along with the increasing weather changes, habitat destruction is also playing a huge role in the disappearances of different animal species that reside in rainforests. An average of 137 different species of plants and animals are pushed to extinction every day from habitat destruction, which is nearly 50 thousand each year. Rainforests provide habitat to over 30 million species of plants and animals, most of which are endangered or critically endangered. One being the Sumatran Tiger which inhabits the Sumatra Islands in Indonesia. In the wild, in fact, this is the only place in the world in which this subspecies of tiger can be found. The Sumatran Tigers numbers are depleting at a steady rate due to illegal hunting and the ever-increasing problem of deforestation. As the forests are destroyed by man for palm oil and hardwood harvesting, the natural habitat of the tiger and its prey disappears, causing them to die out steadily. With the decreasing population of Sumatran Tigers, Indian Wild Dogs, also known as Dholes, are also facing a decline. Due to the rapidly expanding infrastructure of cities and towns and depletion of their prey base, the Dhole only exists in numbers around 2000 to 2500, making it one of the most endangered species within Asian wildlife. Along with the endangered Sumatran Tigers and Dholes, the Mountain Gorilla has made it’s way onto the critically endangered animals list. Due to detrimental human activity, such as poaching, civil war, and habitat destruction, the Mountain Gorilla has become the most endangered type of gorilla. There are less than 1000 remaining in the wild, which currently inhabit in three countries spanning four national parks—Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Volcanoes National Park, and Virunga National Park. With the ever growing population, more and more species and subspecies of plants, animals, and insects lose more of their natural habitat that lead to extinction.As the rainforests disappear, so do many possible cures for life-threatening diseases. Currently, 121 prescription drugs sold worldwide come from plant-derived sources. At least 80% of the developed world’s diet originated in the tropical rainforest, and around 1.2 billion people in the world rely on the rainforest for their survival, directly or indirectly. Additionally, more than 25% of our modern medicines originate from tropical forest plants (Fraser, 2008). Even so, we humans have only learned how to use 1% of these plants. At least 80% of the developed world’s diet originated in the tropical rainforest, and many foods we consume today such as nuts, bananas, coffee and spices, and industrial products such as rubber, resins and fibres, were originally found in tropical rainforests. Without rainforests, the world today would be drastically different and would not be able to experience these resources.Rainforest destruction has become an issue of great international concern. The immediate causes of it are clear no matter who looks at them, and the fact that the unstable agricultural and infrastructural practices and hardwood harvesting techniques are going unnoticed by most of the consumers needs to be reevaluated. The biggest cause of all this habitat loss in rainforests is timber logging for infrastructure expansion or shipped to the US and Canada to be put to use here. The timber trade defends itself by saying that this method of ‘selective’ logging ensures that the forest regrows naturally and in time, is once again ready for their ‘safe’ logging practices, although the selective method is just as harmful as clear-cutting. Removing a fallen tree from the forest causes even further destruction, especially when it is carried out carelessly. The tracks made by heavy machinery and the clearings left behind by loggers are sites of extreme soil disturbance which begin to erode in heavy rain. This causes siltation of the forests, rivers and streams. Sustainable logging, while possible, has met resistance from the timber industry for its lack of efficiency relative to traditional harvesting methods, and it remains controversial among conservationists as to its impact on the environment. Illegal logging and counterfeit labeling are major obstacles facing sustainable forest management for timber, but in time the development of higher yielding timber plantations established on degraded non-forest lands will help alleviate pressures on natural forests. It is believed that in many South-East Asian countries between 45-74% of trees remaining after logging have been substantially damaged or destroyed (WWF, n.d.). In the Amazon, around 17% of the forest has been lost in the last 50 years, which doesn’t seem like a large number but rainforests occupy only 2 percent of the entire Earth’s surface, and this loss is severe. The lives and life support systems of indigenous people are disrupted as is the habitat of hundreds of birds and animals.With 7.6 billion people inhabiting earth, it’s no surprise that one of the other leading causes of habitat destruction in rainforests around the globe includes infrastructure expansion and urbanization. With the population increasing at the rate it currently has been, the deforestation of the rainforests will occur much quicker than it has been. With the rapidly increasing need for more space, people are needing to find more room to expand their roads and cities, which starts to invade the nearby ecosystems such as rainforests. This is a major problem because the issues that come along with urbanization will push themselves into what is left of the surrounding rainforest. Fragmentation due to infrastructure expansion is a problem because when species lose their forest homes, they are often unable to subsist in the small fragments of forested land left behind. This is due to the fact it restricts breeding and gene flow and results in long-term population decline. Furthermore, this leads to loss of biodiversity, increases in invasive plants, pests, and pathogens, and reduction in water quality. Undisturbed and logged rainforest areas are being totally cleared to provide land for food crops, tree plantations or for grazing cattle (Colchester & Lohmann, n.d.). Much of this produce is exported to rich industrialised countries and in many cases, crops are grown for export while the local populace goes hungry. Modern machinery, fertilisers and pesticides are used to maximise profits. The land is farmed intensively, and in many cases, cattle damage the land to such an extent that it is of no use to cattle ranchers any more, and they move on, destroying more and more rainforest. Not only have the forests been destroyed but the land is exploited, stripped of nutrients and left barren, sustaining nothing. There is no attempt at sustainable practices because the only thing that matters is to make money quickly, with little concern about the environmental damage that they are causing. Due to the delicate nature of rainforest soil and the destructive nature of present day agricultural practices, the productivity of cash crops grown on rainforest soils declines rapidly after a few years.Following the causes, there are a few solutions to counteract the problem of rainforest loss which includes sustainable development programs, practicing sustainable agriculture, and the restoration of forests and nearby ecosystems. Though a massive replanting effort would help to alleviate the problems deforestation caused, it would not solve them all. It would aid in reducing the buildup of carbon in the atmosphere, but it would not bring back the many different species from extinction. Rainforests, and forests in general, cannot absorb all of the carbon dioxide humans are emitting to the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels and a reduction in fossil fuel emissions. Research has shown that the restoration of entire ecosystems is most possible in regions where parts or at least parts of the original forest still remain and there are few human population pressures. Small clearings surrounded by forest recover quickly, and large sections may recover in time, especially if some assistance in the reforestation process is provided. After several years, a once-barren field can again support vegetation in the form of pioneer species and secondary growth. Although the secondary forest will be low in diversity and poorly developed, the forest cover will be adequate for some species to return. Restoration of rainforests would improve the effect that has been taking toll on the Earth but it wouldn’t necessarily solve the problem of habitat loss. It would most likely cost too much and there wouldn’t be enough people to plant trees to do it. Additionally, it has been brought up that it fails to generate sufficient economic positives for respecting and maintaining the forest. Rainforests will only continue to survive as functional ecosystems if they can be shown to provide positive economic benefits. Conservation efforts and sustainable development programs are not going to be cost-free, even countries that already get considerable aid from foreign donors have trouble effectively making such initiatives work in the long term. If funding is provided, it could be used to expand protected areas and if protected areas can be developed in such a manner to generate income for local communities, an increased number of parks should theoretically create more economic benefits for a greater share of the population. It could also be used to increase surveillance and patrol in protected areas, establish programs that promote sustainable practices, and build research facilities for local scientist and guides to educate and further their knowledge of improving crop yields, reduce fertilizer and pesticide use, and mitigate soil erosion. Programs that promote sustainable use are key to elevating the standard of living for people living around protected areas. However, not all members of a community will see the direct benefits from employment in the service or production sector, and many people will still rely on traditional use of the natural resources around them whether they receive proper education or not.A sustainable approach to better agriculture practices are important to making sure rainforests stay protected, if local farmers are taught better ways to addressing their problems then it would reduce the need to cut down more forests when the soil has been leached of all nutrients. A better approach to addressing the needs of the rural may be by improving and intensifying currently existing agricultural projects and promoting alternative cultivation techniques—notably permaculture. Permaculture adds a mix of crops to the farmer’s palette that both enables the farm to diversify his or her income stream and enhance degraded soils by restoring nutrients. An added benefit of is that they maintain forest systems, soils, and biological diversity at a far higher level than do conventional agricultural approaches. As long as such fields are adjacent to secondary and old-growth forest, many species will continue to thrive. With the benefits of permaculture, an added bonus is that it is not very expensive, and would cost a lot less than traditional cultivation techniques in the long run. To turn 2000 acres into an eco-friendly permaculture farm would cost an average of $3600, which is not a lot if funding could be placed. It would also help the local economy by implementing jobs that could be filled by the locals. Protecting rainforests should be just important as any other ecological issue that people are facing, they play a huge role on earth and there are severe consequences if the problems are not solved or at least slowed down. There are many different solutions that could be implemented but so far there has been none. And although the counteracting solutions are important, it is believed that humans have pushed it past the point of fixing, and that may be true but it is crucial that some sort of solution is placed in the meantime. “The cost of our success is the exhaustion of natural resources, leading to energy crises, climate change, pollution, and the destruction of our habitat. If you exhaust natural resources, there will be nothing left for your children. If we continue in the same direction, humankind is headed for some frightful ordeals, if not extinction.” – Christian de Duve.