The forest at the climax stage. BIODIVERSITY The

The Amazon rainforest is an equatorial forest located in the Amazon basin in South America. The Amazon basin stretches over 7.3 million km² and the forest itself covers about 6 million km², located in nine countries, mainly Brazil (with 63% of the forest), but also Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, France (via the Department of Guyana), Suriname, Guyana, Bolivia and Peru.

Although its reputation as “lung of the Earth” is wrong, the Amazon rainforest is one of the world’s largest reservoirs of biodiversity and accounts for half of the world’s tropical forests. In terms of ecology, it is a primary forest at the climax stage.

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The tropical rainforest has the largest specific biodiversity in the world, and the tropical forests of America have more species than the humid forests of Africa or Asia. As the largest rainforest region in America, the Amazon rainforest has unparalleled biodiversity.

– The region is home to about 2.5 million insect species and currently, at least 40,000 plant species, 3,000 fish, 1,294 birds, 427 mammals, 427 amphibians and 378 reptiles have been scientifically classified in the region. Scientists have described between 96,660 and 128,843 species of invertebrates only in Brazil.

– The diversity of plant species is the most important on Earth. Some experts estimate that one square kilometer could contain more than 75,000 types of trees and 150,000 species of higher plants. One square kilometer of Amazon rainforest can hold 90,790 tons of living plants. Currently, 438,000 plant species with economic and social interest have been identified in the region, with much more to be discovered or classified.

Le bassin amazonien, avec ses fleuves immenses, est devenu la nouvelle frontière de la production électrique au brésil, où l’hydroélectricité domine. Plus de 60 % du potentiel hydroélectrique du pays se trouve dans cet écosystème ultrasensible. Des dizaines de barrages de plus ou moins grande taille existent déjà dans toute l’Amazonie alors que plusieurs peuples indiens manifestent pour tenter de mettre un terme à la construction de nouveaux barrages.

Deforestation is the conversion of forested areas into an agricultural field (most often soy). More than a fifth of the Amazon rainforest has already been destroyed, and the rest is threatened. In the space of only ten years, the surface of forest lost in the Amazon reaches between 415 000 and 587 000 km ² – France has a total surface (without the territories of overseas) of 547 030 km 2 – with the majority part of the lost forest used to produce livestock feed.

In Brazil, the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (National Institute for Space Research) produces annual figures on deforestation. Their estimate is based on 100 to 220 images taken during the dry season by the Landsat satellite. According to a scenario accepted by the World Bank, it is envisaged at the current rate that 40% of the Amazon will be extinct in 2050 if nothing is done to slow the process of deforestation. Some assumptions, and their consequences on the global climate, are even more alarmist.

Contrary to what many people imagine, the soils of the Amazon are relatively poor. The majority of non-floodable Amazonian lands (terra firm) are not very fertile. However, they are scattered with pockets of good land (terra roxa): these soils are anthrosols resulting from human activity, and enriched by the progressive accumulation of waste and ashes.

These are the lands that are cultivated nowadays. Indeed, it is partly because of this last action that the Amazonian forest is now in danger.

Amazonian lands are being used to increase the area of ??gigantic farms devoted to extensive cattle rearing. These farms are defended by pistoleros, sorts of private guards responsible for protecting land ownership.

The Amazon is crossed by many roads and highways which for the most part were built illegally by loggers. These roads allow them to enter the heart of the forest to access rare species.

This network covers a length of more than 170 000 km. He ensures the transport of wood and loggers. But this network also allows large landowners to illegally appropriate lands along the roads by falsifying property titles or by using corruption. These acts of appropriation are called grilagem.

Only a few lines of communication are official, such as the transamazonian crossing Brazil from east to west and the BR-163 so-called “soy highway” goes from Mato Grosso in the south to Parà in the north.

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