Threats to Rainforests
Rainforests are disappearing with a great speed and the main cause of deforestation is human development over the past centuries. In the past rainforests occupied 14% of the Earth’s land, but now this number decreased to 6%. During the 70-year interval the total area of tropical rainforests reduced by more than half, to approximately 6.2-7.8 million square kilometers. Biologists expect rainforests will lose up to 10% of their species each decade. Rampant deforestation could cause many important rainforest habitats to disappear completely within the upcoming century.
Such rapid loss of habitat is because of the 100 acres rainforests being cut every minute for agricultural and industrial evolvement. In the Pacific Northwest’s rainforests, logging companies cut down trees for timber while paper industries use the wood for pulp. Huge tracts of forests, in the Amazon rainforest, are being cleared for arable land by large-scale agricultural industries, such as cattle ranching. In the Congo rainforest, roads and other infrastructure development have reduced habitat and cut off migration corridors for many rainforest species. Throughout both the Amazon and Congo, mining and logging operations clear-cut to build roads and dig mines. Some rainforests are threatened by massive hydroelectric power projects, where dams flood acres of land. Development is encroaching on rainforest habitats from all sides.
The rapid deforestation is fertilized by economic inequalities. The vast majority of rainforests are located in developing countries the economies of which are based on resources of natural type. Energy use is increasing as a consequence of economic development, and demand for products by wealthy nations only grows. Local governments are being encouraged by these factors to develop rainforest acreage at a fraction of its value. On top of that, these lands are also inhabited by poor people who are converting forests into subsistence farmland in order to improve their lives.