Amazon Rainforest Deforestation


Brandon Chan, Staff Writer

This year, to make matters worse, deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, the world’s largest rainforest stretching over nine South American countries (Brazil, Columbia, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana), has reached a new 12-year high. The destruction unfortunately rose 9.5% to 11,088 square kilometers from 2008 to 2020. To put things into perspective, 11,088 square kilometers is seven times the size of London.

“Brazil will miss its own target, established under a 2009 climate change law, for reducing deforestation to roughly 3,900 square kilometers,” reported Yahoo News. “The consequences for missing the target are not laid out in the law but could leave the government open to lawsuits.”

Why is this destruction of the Amazon rainforest detrimental to the environment? This biodiverse ecosystem is home to many unique animals, insects, and plants. This rainforest can create its own weather through its plants, and influence climates around the world. The Amazon River, which runs through the rainforest, is the world’s second longest river and is an important water supply. In essence, the Amazon rainforest is essential in regulating the world’s oxygen and carbon cycles, as well as battling the worsening situation of global warming. 

“It produces roughly six percent of the world’s oxygen and has long been thought to act as a carbon sink, meaning it readily absorbs large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere,” found recent research. “But when trees are logged and the forest is burned, that carbon is released into the atmosphere at alarming rates.”

Many environmentalists around the world believe that far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is at fault. Bolsonaro has encouraged the development of the Amazon rainforest and has defunded agencies that are responsible for preventing illegal activities, such as logging and mining. The large number of fires that have been occuring in the rainforest are not a coincidence. They are lit to clear plants and vegetation from the ground level to obtain more space for cattle ranching. Bolsonaro has taken some measures under the recent scrutiny to ban fires; however, it is still not enough. 

“I would be gathering up and making sure we had the countries of the world coming up with $20 billion, and say, ‘Here’s $20 billion. Stop tearing down the forest. And if you don’t then you’re gonna have significant economic consequences,’” said President-elect Joe Biden

President Bolsonaro rejected Biden’s offer and said that it was a threat against Brazil’s sovereignty. 

Whatever the solution may be, it better happen quickly, otherwise the Amazon rainforest will deteriorate.


Photo courtesy of ABC.COM