The Amazon

December 2, 2014 2:32 pm

The Amazon rainforest – also known in English as Amazonia or the Amazon Jungle – sprawls over a vast expanse of 5,500,000 square kilometers (2,100,000 square miles) and graces nine countries. These countries are Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. There are parts of the Amazon where no human has ever set foot, and it is home to the largest river on our planet.

It is estimated that the Amazon is home to 390 billion tress – including chocolate, Brazil nut and acai berry – which can be grouped into roughly 16,000 species. Scientific studies have been undertaken that suggest there are approximately 6,000 tree species exclusive to the Amazon, with only 1,000 trees remaining per species. This may not appear to be of any initial interest, but imagine what these endangered trees could contain: a snack more heavenly than chocolate, a drug more potent than heroin or even the cure for diseases such as Cancer and HIV. All of a sudden, these 6,000 species of tree appear to have gained some significant value. The foliage of the Amazon is so dense that the forest floor is almost completely dark. A minuscule 1% of available sunlight makes it through the leaves and onto the forest floor, making a walk through this natural maze highly treacherous. If you were to walk through the Amazon and gaze upon its raw wilderness – just as the British explorer Ed Stafford did in 2008 whilst undertaking a mammoth expedition that took 860 days (roughly two years, four months and ten days) to complete as he followed the Amazon river from mouth to mouth – you would find yourself within the company of 1/10th of the world’s biodiversity. Some of which would consist of Jaguars, Cougars – not the type looking for playboys – Electric eels, Piranhas, Poisonous dart frogs, Tarantulas, Vampire bats and Anacondas, to name a few. The Amazon river is 6,400 km (4,000 miles or 1/6th of the earths circumference) long, and meanders through seven countries whilst reaching a maximum width of 190 km (120 miles) during the wet season of December to June. Despite all of the Amazon’s beauty and uniquely diverse ecosystem it is not always treated with the respect is deserves, and deforestation has become a considerably large issue.

Deforestation is a large-scale problem that has stemmed from the human races want for more and more. The Amazon rainforests deforestation is so vast that the areas that have previously been logged can be seen by the naked eye from space. The Amazon was a protected area prior to the 1960’s, meaning that no significant deforestation had ever been undertook. However, since the Amazon has been opened up for logging and cattle farming purposes it has reduced in size significantly. In this present day the Amazon is losing 1.5 acres per second due to logging. The rainforest used to cover 14% of the earths surface, yet today it now only covers 6%. It is estimated that the entire rainforest could disappear within the next 40 years. This means that potentially within your lifetime, the Amazon could disappear completely. The only place it will be found is within textbooks and historic online databases. This is not just a sad fact, but also an alarmingly sobering one. As previously mentioned, think of all the potential cures for diseases and other amazing and possibly life-saving things that could be found within the Amazon. If the Amazon disappears then the world will lose – at least – 6,000 species of tree and at least 1/10th of its biodiversity. Not to mention the mass reduction in carbon dioxide filtration and oxygen production. Of course the human species will not disappear with the rainforest; earth has other ‘lungs’ that can provide us with breathable air. Albeit there will be less to share due to a reduction in the number of living trees and an increasing human population. However, it will be a grave loss to the planet if the Amazon rainforest, the largest of its kind and the most bio diverse area on this earth becomes nothing more than a chapter in a book. And ironically so, possibly a book that the rainforest was destroyed to create.

 

An illustration of the harm caused via deforestation over the past 64 years, and the anticipated next 6 years.

 

The deforestation of the Amazon rainforest as seen from space.

 

4 beautiful animals whose homes are slowly being destroyed.

 

The journey undertook by Ed Stafford along the Amazon river that began on 2nd April 2008 and finished 860 days later on 9th August 2010.

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