Stop The Deforestation Essay Research Paper

Stop The Deforestation Essay, Research Paper "This land is where we know where to find all that it provides for us–food from hunting and fishing, and farms, building and tool materials,

Stop The Deforestation Essay, Research Paper

"This land is where we know where to find all that it provides for us–food

from hunting and fishing, and farms, building and tool materials,

medicines. This land keeps us together within its mountains; we come to

understand that we are not just a few people or separate villages, but one

people belonging to a homeland" (Colins 32). The "homeland" is the Upper

Mazaruni District of Guyana, a region in the Amazon rain forest where the

Akawaio Indians make their home (32). The vast rain forest, often

regarded as just a mass of trees and exotic species, is to many indigenous

people a home. This home is being destroyed as miners, loggers, and

developers move in on the cultures of these people to strip away their

resources and complicate the peaceful, simple lives of these primitive

tribes. However, the tribes are not the only ones who lose in this

situtation. If rain forest invasion continues, mankind as a whole will lose a

valuable treasure: the knowledge of these people in utilizing the resources

and plants of the forest for food, building, and medicine. To prevent this

loss, the governments of the countries housing the rain forests should

provide some protection for the forest and its inhabitants through

legislation, programs. Also, environmentalists should pursue educating

the tribes in managing thier resources for pragmatic, long-term profit

through conservation.

Although hard to believe, the environmental problems of today

started a long time before electricty was invented, before automobilies

littered the highways, and before industries dotted the countryside. From

ancient times to the Industrial Revolution, humans began to change the

face of the earth. As populations increased and technology improved and

expanded, more significant and widespread problems arose. "Today,

unprecedented demands on the environment from a rapidly expanding

human population and from advancing technology are causing a continuing

and acelerating decline in the quality of the environment and its ability to

sustain life" (Ehrlich 98). Increasing numbers of humans are intruding on

remaining wild land-even in those areas once considered relatively safe

from exploitation. Tropical forests, especially in southest Asia and the

Amazon River Basin, are being destroyed at an alarming rate for timber,

conversion to crop and grazing lands, pine plantations, and settlements.

According to researcher Howard Facklam, "It was estimated at one point in

the 1980s that such forest lands were being cleared at the rate of 20

(nearly 50 acres) a minute; another estimate put the rate at more than

200,000 sq km (more than 78,000 sq mi) a year. In 1993, satellite data

provided the rate of deforestation could result in the extinction of as many

as 750,000 speices, which would mean the loss of a muliplicity of

products: food, fibers, medical drungs, dyes, gums, and resins" (53). So

what kind of condition will the forests be in in the year 2050? If this rate of

deforestation continues, there will be no tropical rain forest in the year

2050. Therefore, preservation need to occur now in order stop the terrible

loss of the rain forests and all that it can provide.

Rain forest destruction has two deadly causes: loggers and miners.

For example, imagine loggers on bulldozers rolling into the forest, tearing

down not only trees, but the invisible barrier between the modern,

materialistic world and the serene paradise under the forest canopy.

Forest locals told Scholastic Update that "…so much forest has vanished

that the weather has changed delaying rains and increasing heat…." (Leo

19). Along with the loggers come miners seeking the gold and other

minerals found in the forest. The article "My Trip to the Rain Forest" points

out that the rivers of the rain forests become poisoned by the mercury

leaked in gold-mining. This exposes the tribes to diseases which they have

no immunity to, such as malaria, tuberculsis, and the flu. The miners also

bring in violence, which has killed over 1,500 members of one tribe in the

Amazon. Many of the tribes leave their ancestoral homes to flee the noise

and disruption of the miners (Smith 66). Certainly, these loggers and

miners must not think of the areas they invade and destroy as a home.

Conseuently, invading the rain forest is no different than bullsdozers

leveling out a suburb in the United States. The lifestyles in rain forest

villages and American towns are vastly different, but the two share one very

important similarity: in these settlements live human beings with minds,

families, and feelings.

In fact, there is a way to limit deforestation of the rain forest:

through forest conservation. The conservation of forest trees involves

three fundamental principles. The first is protection of the growing tree

crop from fire, insects, and disease. However, fire, once regarded as a

destroyer of forests, is now recognized as a management tool when

carefully employed. Some important timber trees actually require fire for

successful regeneration. The second principle concerns proper harvesting

methods, ranging from removal of all trees (clear-cutting) to removal of

selected mature trees (selection cutting), and provision for reproduction,

either naturally from seed trees or artificially by planting. The rate and

frequency of any cutting should aim for sustained production over an

indeifinite period. The third principle of conservation is complete use of

all trees harvested. Technological advances, such as particleboard and

gluing, have created such uses for branches, defective logs, trees too small

to be milled into boards, and so-called inferior trees (Cappon 89).

Through forest conservation, the lives and health of the rain forest

inhabitants can be preserved along with wildlife and their habitat.

However, the lives and health of the tribes are not the only treasure

being lost by rain forest destruction. The people of the forests possess

amazing knowledge in using the plants, trees, and other forest resources.

The tribes utilize their resources to sustain all aspects of their lives from

eating to healing. For example, journalist Anne Hornaday got to

experience some of methods used by the tries when she visted the Amazon.

By striking a tree with his machete, Anne’s guide was able to predict the

weather, "When many birds answer, that means rain is coming" (Hornaday

28). As the natives examined the trees of the forest, her guide expalined

that the men check to see if fruit has been eaten off the trees. They can

determine which direction to continue their hunt simply by following the

tracks of whichever animal ate the fruit. Native fisherman use the bark

from hairari trees to drag the rivers and stun the fish they need to catch


Also, the native people have a natural sense of direction. The tribes

chart vast distances of the pacific Ocean using only "…their knowledge of

currents and the feel of intermittent waves that bounce off distance islands

(Hornaday 29). Their methods may seem primitve, but the ways of the rain

forest people have come to be respected and valued by scientists and

conservationists. In addition, The farming methods of the people are

excellent in preservation of the land and abudnant in production. They

farm without irrigation and have developed an in-depth understanding of

plant life (29). Furthermore, this knowledge of plants if not only used in

cultivating, but also in one of the most fascinatign aspects of the tribes’

wisdom: their natural healing methods. Tribal healers, called shamans,

are able to treat illnesses from colds to wounds. The treatments, such as

using termites and poisonous plants to heal wounds, may seem exotic or

unlikely, but are amazing in their results.

Remarkably, medical proffesionals are turing to the healers in their

reseach. The knowledge of the healers is regarded as a valueable research

source to both medical researchers and doctors. Leading the way, reports

Business Week, is a San Carlos, California-based company called Shaman

Pharmaceuticals, Incorporated. This small, successful operation has

developed a method researchers describe as "ethnobotany", in which the

company sends their scientists into the forests to meet with tribal healers

about medicinal properties of plants. The scientist show the shamans

medical cases and photos to see how they would treat the problem.

According to Business Week, this method bring about "…an initial hit

about half the time, versus a miniscule fraction of that in

random-screening programs [done by large-scale research companies]"

(53). The article continues by saying that Shaman Pharmaceuticals’

program is also beneficial to the people of the forest. The company began

foundation to help save the homes of the tribes that help them in their

research by employing them to harvest the plants that the company uses


Unfortunately, with each advance by those who destroy the forest

and disrupt the cultures within, this knowledge becomes increasingly

threatened. There are several reasons why. Sadly, the tribal healers are

either forced out of their homes along with their tribes or die from illnesses

or violence brought in by outsiders. Eugene Linden, a journalist of Time,

points out a more disturbing reason: the young tribe members are

ashamed of their culture. They have seen the technologies and novelties of

civilization outside the forest and are embarassed by their simple lifestyle.

"Students who leave villages for schooling…learn that people, not the

spirits of their ancestors, created the machines, dams, and other so-called

cargo of the modern world. Once absorbed, this realization undermines

the credibility and authority of elders" (Linden 50). Therefore, since some

of their former teachings or beliefs were proved wrong, they make no effort

to learn or carry on the useful traditions of their cultures.

Ironically, the tribes are at times responsible for the damage done to

their homeland. According to Scholastic Update, some of the tribes

looking for a short-term profits and quick relief from poverty "…cut their

own deals with miners, developers, and loggers"(Leo 20). G.T. Miller,

author of Living in the Rain Forest says this is to be expected:

When an economically struggling country has a choice beween

logging a forest to sell timber for high profits and leaving the

forest intact without monetary compensation, the nation


chooses the profitable alternative. Because immediate

economic gains…are more important than future


costs….(Miller, 59).

Obviously, the tribes are confused. They are being pulled in all different

diections by teems of environmentalists offering contradticing solutions

and they are being mesmerized by the promise of financial gain made by

developers and businessmen who want the forest for their own use.

Therefore, a specialized environmental group needs to step in. A

group with the goal to save the homes, cultures, and knowledge of the

indigenous people, which the rain forest rightfully belongs to. A group that

will not use the situation as an opportunity to launch fund-raising schemes

for their benefit. If the National Arbor Day Foundation would focus its Rain

Forest Rescue program to educating these tribes in the most beneficial

ways to use their forest resources, the people would be fortified to resist

the temptation to sell off their forest land in hopes of quick money. In the

article, "Paradise Lost?", a study showed that "…an acre in the Peruvian

Amazon would be worth $148 if used for cattle pasture, $1000 if cut for

timber, and $6820 if selectively combed for fruits, rubber, and other

profits…." (Linden 51). Tribal leaders need to be shown this information,

they need to be shown the evidence of benefiting from conversation.

In addition, the governments of the countries where rain forests are

located can also play a part. Through legislation and programs, the

governments need to regulate the infusion of developers, miners, and

loggers into the forests. They can do this in a way similar to the way the

NCAA regulates the recruiting of athletes. By closely restricting "recruiting

tactics" made to convince the tribes to surrender their land, the natives will

be less bombarded by fast-talking, money-hungary cooporations. Also,

there should be less outsiders allowed into the forests to destroy its

simplicity. This will also keep the cultures from being overshadowed by

those of the outside world, which will help to preserve pride of the tribe

members in their traditions and knowledge.

In fact, some governments have started to make an effort in

preservation of the rain forests. For example, in June 1992, the United

Nations Conference on Environment and Development, commonly known

as the Earth Summit, convened for 12 days on the outskirts of Rio de

Janeiro, Brazil. The Earth Summit devleoped and legitimized a broad

agenda for environmental, economic and political change. The purposes of

the conference were to identify long-term enviromental reforms and to

initiate processes for their international implementation and supervision.

Conventions were held to discuss and adopt documents on the

environment. The major topics covered by these conventions included

climate change, biodiviersity, forest protections, Agenda 21 (a 900-page

blueprint for environmental development), and the Rio Declaration (a

six-page statement that called for integrating the environment with

economic development). The Earth Summit was a historic event of great

significance. Not only did it make the environment a priority on the

world’s agenda, but delegates from 179 countries attended, making it the

largest conference ever held ("Environment").

However, depsite great interest in the environment, enviornmental

education still needs more focus. According to conservationist Raymond


To reduce environmental degradation and for humanity to

save its habitat, societies must recognize that the

environment is finite. Environmentalaists believe that, as

populations and their

demands increase, the idea of continuous growth must give

way to a more rational use of the environment, but that this


be accomplised only by a dramatic change in the attitude of


human species. The human attack on the environment has

been compared to the dramatic upheavals of the earth in the

geologic past; whatever a society’s attitude may be toward

continuous growth, humanity should recognize that this attack

threatens human survival (12).

The serenity of the rain forest is worth preserving both for sake of the

tribes who call it home and for the human population that can benefit from

the rain forests’ inhabitants invaluable expertiese in hunting, building,

conservation, and natural healing. Why must miners, loggers, and

developers invade this uncomplicated society? Why not let these people

live confidently in their traditions and peacefully in their paradise instead

of destroying their homes or deceiving them into destroying themselves?

The rain forest is their home, and as one tribal leader told Time, "If we die,

we die in the forest. There is no other place for us to go" (Linden 51).


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Colins, Mark. The Last Rainforest. Oxford, 1991.

Dasmann, Raymond. Environmental Conservation. 5th ed. Wiley, 1988.

Echrlich, Anne et al. Earth. Watts, 1987.

"Enchanted Canopy, The." Business Week. 5 Sept. 1989: 52-53.

"Environment." Microsoft Encarta ‘95: The Complete Interactive Multimedia

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Facklam, Howard. Plants: Extinction or Survival?. Enslow, 1990.

Hornaday, Anne. "Earth’s Threatened Resources." Congressional Quarterly.

2 Sept. 1993: 28-29.

Linden, Eugene. "Paradise Lost?" Time. 19 July 1990: 50-51.

Leo, Robert. "The Changing Forest." Scholastic Update. 2 Sept. 1992: 20.

Miller, G.T. Living in the Environment. Wadsworth, 1987.

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Industry and the Environment. 3 Sept. 1991: 66.