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Destruction of Rain Forest

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"In every sense, a standing rain forest supplies more economic wealth than if it were cleared ... yet deforestation continues at an alarming rate." (Tropical Rain Forest Coalition, 1996). Rain Forests have played a significant role in shaping modern biology. The destruction of the rain forests will determine the fate of all species humans plants and animals. Many people do not understand the long- term consequences of losing the earth's rain forests. They have provided all living beings with many natural resources and medicines. Their complete destruction will affect all living conditions due to the influence they have on the climate around the world. Traditionally though, there are three major causes of the destruction to the rain forests: logging, farming and ranching.

For years rain forests have provided countries around the world with valuable resources, such as plants for medicine, energy, and minerals. First of all, in America, one fourth of all drugs prescribed have originated from rain forests. SP-303 is a compound extracted from a plant found in South America. Two products have been derived from this compound: Provir and Virend. Provir helps treat respiratory infections in children, while Virend is a topical ointment used to treat the herpes simplex virus. Another product from medicinal plants includes elements that treat addictive painkillers. (Refer to appendix 1) Secondly, in Brazil alone, the rain forest contains 45% of Brazil's hydroelectric power ("In the Forest"). Thirdly, the soils of the tropical rain forest are typically nutrient poor; all of the nutrients are held in the living organisms. The warm, moist conditions in the forest are ideal for the decomposers breaking down the remains of dead organisms. This quick decay returns the carbon and oxygen in the decomposing material to the air, and returns nitrogen, phosphorous, calcium, and other minerals to the soil. (Refer to appendix 2) In the soil, a thick mat of plant roots and root almost immediately take up the minerals like fungi know as Mycorrhizae ("World Of Biology"). Any nutrients in the soil would be swiftly drifted away by the heavy rainfall. The soils in many areas of the tropical rain forests are laterite soils. These soils are reddish in colour and contain high levels of aluminium and iron, and resist leaching. Nutrients from decomposing organisms are found throughout the rain forest, not only in soil but also in trees. All of them are considered a backbone in today's world. (Refer to appendix 3)

Moreover, the trees of the rain forest store things other than minerals such as carbon dioxide, in their roots, stems, branches and leaves. The trees also provide fresh air and release oxygen. This helps fight pollution and even gives out oxygen necessary for human life. Rain forests receive more than 200 days of rain per year, or as much as 240 inches of water. (Refer to appendix 4) They are characterised by thousands and even millions of plants and trees growing dense over the land, which soak up rainwater from the soil and return it to the air through transpiration. At least half of that water then falls back down onto the forest as it rains again. Hence, most rain forests are located in the central region of the earth, near the equator, where temperatures range from 70-90oC or warmer. When a forest is burned large quantities of carbon dioxide are released from the living vegetation and the soils associated with it. Although carbon dioxide is one of the rare gases of the air, it plays an extremely important role because it absorbs long-wave energy that is reflected from the earth's surface. It does not absorb incoming short- wave energy, which leads to warming. This is known as the green house effect. Despite all that human beings are causing a great deal of damage to nature, especially to the rain forests.

Three of the major traditional reasons for the destruction of the rain forests are logging, farming and ranching. Logging has ruined the rain forests, trees are used for building houses, making furniture and providing pulp for paper products, such as newspapers and magazines. The majority of the wood cut down is used as fuel. Rain forests that are chopped down can grow back over time, but they will never have the same variety of plants and



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