Facts Everyone Should Know About The Amazon and Its Destruction

We’ve all heard of the Amazon rainforest, most likely in school during a talk on South America, and/or plant and animal species. But, our understanding of the importance of this ecosystem usually dissipates after we leave those classrooms.

The Amazon is the world’s largest rainforest, found in the South American countries of Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, and Bolivia. It is also home to about 30 million people, and supplies the earth with endless gifts, including food, wildlife, healing plants, and 20% of the world’s fresh water.

Perhaps knowing information like this on how vital the Amazon rainforest is, and what consumerism, rampant meat eating, and a lack of regard for the planet is doing to it, would help environmental change happen faster. That’s why we are sharing 10 things that everyone should know about the Amazon rainforest and it’s destruction.

Trees in the Amazon


Trees are necessary to this planet. Besides being beautiful, they serve a lot of uses, including providing shelter to animals, lowering temperatures, cleaning the air, and providing oxygen to the earth. And there are a lot of trees, despite the problem with deforestation. In fact, there are said to be as many trees on Earth as there are stars in the Milky Way (3 trillion trees to about 400 billion stars).

Number of Species in the Amazon


In addition to an abundance of trees that are in danger in the Amazon, there are also many plants, and animals that roam among them. There are about 1,300 bird species, 2.5 million species of insects, 3,000 types of fish, 430 mammals, and 40,000 plant species in the Amazon rainforest. 70% of the plants that are used for treating cancer are only found here.

The Clearing of Rainforests

 

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There is a lot of rainforest in the Amazon, but at the speed at which it is being deforested, it is constantly in a state of depletion. This is the same forest that absorbs 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, helping to prevent climate change. 20% of the rainforest is already gone, and deforestation rips away 20,000 square miles on a yearly basis.

Cattle Ranching and Deforestation


Cattle ranching is the biggest cause for deforestation (80%) in the Amazon rainforest. The land is burned and cleared, to use as pasture for cattle, destroying healthy trees in the process. The cattle also release greenhouse gases (methane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide), that further contribute to global warming. In addition to damaging the rainforest, this clearing and planting of herds allow people to lay claim to the land the herd is on.

The People of the Amazon

 

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Of course, the Amazon has beautiful flora and fauna, but it is most importantly the home of over 30 million people. The rainforest of South America hosts between 400 and 500 different tribes, with about 50 of those never having had contact with the outside world.

Food Originating in Rainforests

Photo: Mocomi

In addition to knowing what is in your food, it is important to know where your food comes from. If people knew that around 80% of the food we consume came from the rainforests, then perhaps we would be more alarmed at its destruction, and have more incentive to save it.

Alternatives to Cutting Down Trees


The cutting down of trees will no doubt continue, but there are alternatives that will help slow this process down. You can thrift wood products, as to not be part of the demand for new wooden goods; consume less in general; repurpose wood products you already have; and more. When you remember that wood comes from a living tree, you can learn to appreciate it more, and not be so quick to discard it.

How You Can Help

Although the current damage to the Amazon rainforest is devastating, there are ways that you can do your part to help this global problem. You can such things as shopping secondhand; shopping local; eating less meat, or going vegetarian or vegan; investing in energy-efficient appliances; planting a tree, recycling; reusing what you can, and using less energy. Also, donating to organizations fighting for the Amazon, and against global warming will also help in a big way.

The Takeaway

The biggest takeaway from all these facts on the Amazon rainforest is that we aren’t just protecting the people of this South American ecosystem. By protecting the rainforest, we are protecting the entire earth. This recognition of how connected everyone, and everything is, will help us to be more invested in helping outside of what is in our own backyard–for the greater good.

V. Alexandra de F. Szoenyi is a writer at BoldLatina, Refinery29, LatinaMedia.co, and Mission Local, and is the Fashion and Beauty Editor at BELatina. Her work focuses primarily on fashion, beauty, and Latinx culture. She has also written on San Francisco for a number of publications including the San Francisco Examiner, Bob Cut Mag, 7x7, and The Bold Italic. Alex is a seller of Latinx books at Latinx Books, and recently co-founded the Latina Writers community.