WORLDWIDE DEVASTATION: The tropical rainforests of the world
being converted to nonproductive forest and agricultural lands at a rate
of 25,000 square miles, an area the size of West Virginia, each year.
In many tropical
countries, the majority of deforestation results from the actions of
poor subsistence cultivators. However, not all recent deforestation can
be linked to peasant farming. Most destruction of tropical rainforests
can be directly linked to excessive and widespread commercial
exploitation, including clearing of land for pastureland, mining,
hydroelectric projects and subsistence farming. The outcome of linear thinking that sees the rain forests
only as a resource to be exploited.
Once rain forest is destroyed
for these other uses, agricultural or for cattle, it takes a long time
for it to regenerate, 50 to 120 years, and in massive slash and burn
operations, it may never return. What took eons to create can not
easily be brought back. And the tragedy is that most of the converted
uses are miserable failures. Rain forest cleared to make room for
farming soon sees crop failure due to the nutrient poor topsoil, a
condition not necessary in a healthy rain forest where much of the
biological activity takes place in the tree canopies above the forest
floor. For most farmers, one good year is all they get and they then
must abandon the land.
At this junction, it is then sold, for almost nothing to large
cattle operations, most of which export their beef to American and
Europe where it ends up as fast-food hamburgers. This is in many ways a
final insult, since the fast food culture is one of the major reasons
these countries are now experiencing major obesity epidemics.
Deforestation in the Amazon
National Geographic: Eye In The Sky -Deforestation And Desertification
NASA: Tropical Deforestation Fact Sheet