The Amazon Rainforest: The Greatest Remaining Ancient Forest

Feature story - May 7, 2001
The Amazon is the greatest remaining ancient forest on Earth. The Amazon River valley is the largest basin area in the world. This basin contains most of the biodiversity on earth, with 50 percent of the entire planet's land-based animal and plant species depending on the Amazon for their survival.

This basin contains most of the biodiversity on earth, with 50% of the entire planet's land-based animal and plant species depending on the Amazon rainforest for their survival. Twenty million people, including countless indigenous nations, call the Amazon their home. Tropical rainforests play an important role in the exchange of gases such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane, and oxygen between the biosphere and the atmosphere. Although the ecological importance of the Amazon is undeniable this unique ecosystem faces an ever increasing threat.

The current state of logging in the Amazon is out of control. According to the government of Brazil, 80% of all logging in the Brazilian Amazon is illegal. With the decrease of viable forest stocks around the world, trans-national corporations are now targeting the Amazon as a key source of forest products. Huge majestic trees like the Samauma, also known as "Queen of the Forest," are being cut down to make cheap plywood for construction companies in Brazil, the United States, Japan, and Europe. Illegal logging is fast becoming the major threat to the survival of the Amazon rainforest. This deforestation has consequences not only for the native peoples of Brazil but for the entire planet.

There is no one solution to save the Amazon Rainforest. A wide range of sustainable and effective initiatives are needed to prevent the continuing destruction of the Amazon while simultaneously improving the quality of life for more than 20 million people living in the region. This can only be achieved if economic alternatives and solutions to destructive logging are found.

Notes: 1. Britannica.com, "Amazon Rainforest"

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