Besides cattle ranching and logging, there are four more main causes for rainforest destruction. You might be asking yourself why you should care or need to know about deforestation, so I’ll tell you! First, I just think it’s important to understand the very real and immediate dangers facing rainforests, and therefore, our entire world. Second, understanding the problem is the first step to fixing it. If people understand why rainforests are important, then they start to care about protecting them. And the more we know about what rainforests need protection from, the more we’ll understand how to protect them.
So, why are rainforests being destroyed?
Rainforests are cut down so that enormous plantations can be put in their stead where commodities like bananas, coffee, sugar cane, tea, and palm oil are grown.
Just like cattle ranching, the soil won’t produce for long and every few years the farmers have to move and cut down more rainforest in the process. If you want to know more about agriculture in the rainforest, go here.
Nations demand minerals and metals like diamonds, gold, and oil that are found in the ground beneath rainforests. Rainforests have to be cut away to extract these valuables. Poisonous chemicals like mercury are sometimes used to separate waste (soil and debris) from the minerals it’s mixed with. These chemicals make their way into rivers, which then pollute water supplies that the locals depend on and also kill any fish and other animals that come into contact with it. Go here for more info about mining.
Large roads are built through previously untouched rainforests so they can build pipelines and extract oil. This encourages people to move into the formerly unblemished forests and start slash and burn farming or cutting down trees to sell timber.
The pipelines they install frequently rupture, as most pipelines do, and gallons of oil are leaked into the forest, contaminating water supplies and killing wildlife.
The building of hydro-electric dams has destroyed hundreds of thousands of hectares worth of rainforest. They were first built because it was believed that India and South America would suffer an energy crisis if they weren’t. But the World Bank did a study that concluded that there was a sufficient amount of energy being generated as long as that energy were to be used more efficiently.
There are a plethora of other reasons why the rainforests are being targeted, but now we know the main ones! Now we can look into ways to do our part to preserve them.
Photo courtesy of Jamie Dwyer.