The Amazon basin is home to the largest existing tropical rainforest. But this natural wealth is in acute danger. Despite serious efforts of the governments of Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, and Colombia to stop illegal logging, instant riches are luring ever more illegal loggers and settlers into the rainforest.
The forest is threatened by slash and burn agriculture, oil production, gold mining and illegal logging of precious woods. And the pace of destruction is increasing: According to the UN, Ecuador cleared 28,6% of its forests between 1990 and 2010 (over 15’000 square miles – about the size of Switzerland), which constitutes by far the highest deforestation rate in South America. Brazil, for example, destroyed “only” 9,6% of its forests over the same period of time.
Along with the forest, plants and animals disappear forever. Diversity is lost before we even get to know a fraction of the species and their potential use for medical science or agriculture.
In view of the rapid pace of destruction, one might feel powerless as an individual. Yet there are many ways for every one of us to have an impact: Our consumer decisions influence the way international corporations and their suppliers in the petroleum, gold, timber and agroindustry conduct their business. Besides, countless organizations are successfully working on the ground to protect the rainforest. So don’t despair, but join in!