Deforestation of the Amazon
The Amazon Rainforest is the largest tropical rainforest in the world, spanning over eight rapidly developing countries including Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador. With 1.4 billion acres of dense forests, the Amazon Rainforest represents over half of the planet’s remaining rainforests. As the largest tract of tropical rainforest, the Amazon has unparalleled biodiversity. One in ten known species in the world lives in the Amazon. The landscape contains 4,100 miles of rivers winding through 390 billion individual trees and 40,000 different plant species. The forests are home to 2.5 million insect species, 2,200 fish species, and some 2,000 birds and mammal species. This makes the Amazon the largest collection of living plants and animal species in the world.
Each and every year, swaths of forests the size of Panama are lost. Deforestation is clearing Earth’s forests on a massive scale, often resulting in damage to the quality of the land. During the past 40 years, close to 20 percent of the Amazon Rainforest has been cut down—more than in all the previous 450 years since European colonization began. Deforestation is considerable, and cleared forest areas are visible to the naked eye from space.
The percentage of cut down forest could be far higher than the predicted 20 percent; the figure fails to account for illegal logging. The issue of illegal logging and deforestation in the Amazon is still a huge concern, despite progress on deforestation rates in the last decade. Although deforestation has declined significantly in the Brazilian Amazon between 2004 and 2014, there has been an increase to the present day. Scientists fear that over the next two decades, an additional 20 percent of the trees in the Amazon will be lost. If that happens, the forest’s ecology will unravel and the whole world will be impacted.