the destruction of deforestation

Latin America is home to some of the most incredible diversity of plant and animal life in the world. Scientists throughout the region work to understand the complex ecosystems, discern new species, conserve genetic resources, and interpret the impact of human settlement, especially in neotropical forests. Due to human settlement, forests are cut and burned to create settlements, cattle ranches, and other needs. In the last 40 years, around 20% of the Brazilian Amazon has been deforested. In states such as Rondonia, over 60% of the state has been deforested. Since the year 2000, nearly 8,000 square miles of rainforest has been destroyed every year. Clearly, if this continues at the rate it is going at now, there will be little forest left in the near future!

A NY Times article states that Brazil and other countries, are giving communities legal protections over the forest in order to keep out loggers, ranchers, and others seeking to destroy the forest. This is a good step and the local residents are happy that they can at least preserve their local homes (in some cases), but greater steps need to be taken still. Wealthy ranchers seek to weaken land rights in Brazil. So many people with money and ‘power’, driven by greed, are working hard to undermine the efforts of conservationists. The biggest challenge is to find a balance between the economic benefits of extraction with the ecological soundness of conservation.

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