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, or the Amazon jungle, is a moist broadleaf forest that covers most of the Amazon Basin of South America. This basin encompasses seven million square kilometers (1.7 billion acres), of which five and a half million square kilometers (1.4 billion acres) are covered by the rainforest. This region includes territory belonging to nine nations. The majority of the forest is contained within Brazil, with 60% of the rainforest, followed by Peru with 13%, and with minor amounts in Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana. States or departments in four nations bear the name Amazonas after it. The Amazon represents over half of the planet's remaining rainforests, and it comprises the largest and most species-rich tract of tropical rainforest in the world. The Amazon rainforest was short-listed in 2008 as a candidate to one of the New7Wonders of Nature by the New Seven Wonders of the World Foundation. As of February 2009 the Amazon was ranking first in Group E, the category for forests, national parks and nature reserves.
Deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest threatens many species of tree frogs, which are very sensitive to environmental changes (pictured: Giant leaf frog)
Scarlet Macaw, which is indigenous to the American tropics. Wet tropical forests are the most species-rich biome, and tropical forests in the Americas are consistently more species rich than the wet forests in
Africa and Asia. As the largest tract of tropical rainforest in the Americas, the Amazonian rainforests have unparalleled biodiversity. One in ten known species in the world live in the Amazon Rainforest. This constitutes the largest collection of living plants and animal species in the world. The region is home to about 2.5 million insect species, tens of thousands of plants, and some 2,000 birds and mammals. To date, at least 40,000 plant species, 3,000 fish, 1,294 birds, 427 mammals, 428 amphibians, and 378 reptiles have been scientifically classified in the region. One in five of all the birds in the world live in the rainforests of the Amazon. Scientists have described between 96,660 and 128,843 invertebrate species in Brazil alone. The diversity of plant species is the highest on Earth with some experts estimating that one square kilometer may contain over 75,000 types of trees and 150,000 species of higher plants. One square kilometer of Amazon rainforest can contain about 90,790 tonnes of living plants. The average plant biomass is estimated at 356 ± 47 tonnes ha−1. To date, an estimated 438,000 species of plants of economic and social interest have been registered in the region with many more remaining to be discovered or catalogued. The green leaf area of plants and trees in the rainforest varies by about 25% as a result of seasonal changes. Leaves expand during the dry season when sunlight is at a maximum, then undergo abscission in the cloudy wet season. These changes provide a balance of carbon between photosynthesis and respiration. The rainforest contains several species that can pose a hazard. Among the largest predatory creatures are the Black Caiman, Jaguar and Anaconda. In the river, electric eels can produce an electric shock that can stun or kill, while Piranha are known to bite and injure humans. Various species of poison dart frogs secrete lipophilic alkaloid toxins through their flesh. There are also numerous parasites and disease vectors. Vampire bats dwell in the rainforest and can spread the rabies virus. Malaria, yellow fever and Dengue fever can also be contracted in the Amazon region.
Main article: Deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest Deforestation is the conversion of forested areas to non-forested areas. The main sources of deforestation in the Amazon are human settlement and development of the land. Prior to the early 1960s, access to the forest's interior was highly restricted, and the forest remained basically intact. Farms established during the 1960s was based on crop cultivation and the slash and burn method. However, the colonists were unable to manage their fields and the crops because of the loss of soil fertility and weed invasion. The soils in the Amazon are productive for just a short period of time, so farmers are constantly moving to new areas and clearing more land. These farming practices led to deforestation and caused extensive environmental damage. Deforestation is
considerable, and areas cleared of forest are visible to the naked eye from outer space. Between 1991 and 2000, the total area of forest lost in the Amazon rose from 415,000 to 587,000 km2, with most of the lost forest becoming pasture for cattle. Seventy percent of formerly forested land in the Amazon, and 91% of land deforested since 1970, is used for livestock pasture. In addition, Brazil is currently the second-largest global producer of soybeans after the United States. The needs of soy farmers have been used to validate many of the controversial transportation projects that are currently developing in the Amazon. The first two highways successfully opened up the rain forest and led to increased settlement and deforestation. The mean annual deforestation rate from 2000 to 2005 (22,392 km2 per year) was 18% higher than in the previous five years (19,018 km2 per year). At the current rate, in two decades the Amazon Rainforest will be reduced by 40%.[34 Natural resource management is a discipline in the management of natural resources such as land, water, soil, plants and animals, with a particular focus on how management affects the quality of life for both present and future generations. Natural resource management is interrelated with the concept of sustainable development, a principle that forms a basis for land management and environmental governance throughout the world. In contrast to the policy emphases of urban planning and the broader concept of environmental management, Natural resource management specifically focuses on a scientific and technical understanding of resources and ecology and the life-supporting capacity of those resources.
In recent years, the depletion of natural resources and attempts to move to sustainable development have been a major focus of development agencies. This is of particular concern in rainforest regions, which hold most of the Earth's natural biodiversity - irreplaceable genetic natural capital. Conservation of natural resources is the major focus of natural capitalism, environmentalism, the ecology movement, and green politics. Some view this depletion as a major source of social unrest and conflicts in developing nations. Mining, petroleum extraction, fishing, hunting, and forestry are generally considered naturalresource industries. Agriculture is considered a man-made resource. Theodore Roosevelt, a well-known conservationist and former United States president, was opposed to unregulated natural resource extraction. The term is defined by the United States Geological Survey as "The Nation's natural resources include its minerals, energy, land, water, and biota."
See also: Environmental protection Conservation biology is the scientific study of the nature and status of Earth's biodiversity with the aim of protecting species, their habitats, and ecosystems from excessive rates of extinction. It is an interdisciplinary subject drawing on sciences, economics, and the practice of natural resource management. The term conservation biology was introduced as the title of a conference held University of California at San Diego in La Jolla, California in 1978 organized by biologists Bruce Wilcox and Michael Soulé.
Habitat conservation is a land management practice that seeks to conserve, protect and restore, habitat areas for wild plants and animals, especially conservation reliant species, and prevent their extinction, fragmentation or reduction in range. It is a priority of many groups that cannot be easily characterized in terms of any one ideology
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