Deforestation in Brazil from 1970s and its Effects

Subject: Environment
Type: Evaluation Essay
Pages: 5
Word count: 1291
Topics: Climate Change, Deforestation, Environmental Issues
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Abstract

In this paper, effects and history of deforestation in Brazil have been comprehensively discussed. The introduction has given the general definition of deforestation and the global rating of Brazil in deforestation. The history behind the Brazilian deforestation has been backed from the 1960s, which lead to enormous involvement in the act in 1970s. The study also analyses colonists as the pioneers of deforestation with their various purposes of enhancing the same. National legislation is also discussed in the context of enacting laws that propel deforestation. The major effects of deforestation are highlighted to be global climatic change and creation of an imbalance in the ecosystem. The increase in the atmospheric carbon dioxide is identified as the core cause of climatic change, caused by deforestation.

Introduction

Deforestation refers to the removal of trees from a given area of land then the land is converted into use that is non-forest. Some of the activities involved in such lands may relate to farming, ranching, constructions or urban use (Middleton, 2013). Clearance is an alternative term used for deforestation. Thirty percent of the Earth surface is covered by forest and regions occupied with tropical rainforests experience the highest level of deforestation. Such regions experience heavy rainfall in all months of the year, but still, they experience effects of deforestation. Brazil is among the countries which are covered with heaviest tropical rainforests. It was recorded among the countries with the highest rate of deforestation in the year 2005.  This analysis involves a description of the history of deforestation in Brazil and its effects.

History

Deforestation tremendously increased in the 1960s at Amazon forest in Brazil. This was enhanced by the urge of making ways for cattle ranching, which was part of earning a living in Brazil. This means of earning a living was meant to raise the national revenue in the period when world prices for beef went high. The money earned from this was aimed at eliminating hunger and clearing international debt issues (Hall, 1989). In the 1970s, constructions of highways began. This involved Trans-Amazon Highway, in which broad areas covered with tree were removed for the constructions and other commercial purposes.

The rate of deforestation in the 1970s was higher in comparison to the past periods, in which restrictions were in place regarding access to the areas around Amazon. The restrictions were flexed by the colonists who initiated farming within the forest.  The colonists employed traditional farming methods in which slashing and bush burning were part of crop cultivation. This led to poor management of the fields and the crops since the soil eventually became infertile and persistent weeds invaded the cleared areas.

The colonists in Amazon dwelt much in cattle raising, not because of the possibility of growing grass in the poor soil, but the reasons relied on the little labor required for ranching, produced lucrative profit and also enhanced community social status. These farming activities consistently generated enormous deforestation which has eventually led to damage to the environment.

Currently, 30% of clearing in Amazon is enhanced by the small scale farmers. Besides, the regions they occupy have higher accelerating intensity of deforestation in comparison to the regions occupied by large and medium ranchers, who are in possession of 89% of Amazon land legally. This has led to the emphasis of using the land previously cleared, for agricultural activities. Demographic and economic pressure promotes changes in the number of large landholders versus small-scale farmers in the Brazilian Amazon.

Another contributor to the high rate of deforestation in Brazil in the 1970s relates to a land law enacted in 1964. The law gave an allowance of land possession to any user who could effectively cultivate the land for a year or a day. Therefore, citizens of the country employed their efforts in best cultivation and then claimed for their right of the possession of the cultivated land. In the process of enforcing these claims, large pieces of land covered by forests were cleared for cultivation and eventual sure possession (Watkins & Griffiths, 2000).

In the 1970s, the development of the Trans-Amazonian highway enhanced the establishment of various schemes which attracted many potential farmers towards the west part of Amazon, who exploited the land for ranching. This accelerated the growth of the value of the land to 100% per year. Besides, the government also made provisions of subsidies to reform the land. The reduced cost of farming propelled farmers into the claiming of the land and converting it to the farming site. The economic activities generated much profit to these farmers due to the improved network of transport together with the high prices of beef.  The trees cleared were also sold as timber to enhance clearing of the international debt that Brazil possessed.

Effects

The global effect of the climatic change, form the main concern that arises from deforestation in Brazil. The rainforests greatly contribute to the exchange process of carbon dioxide and come second after the oceans. The growth of industrialization has contributed to the presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at a higher rate that alarms the future. Recent research has confirmed that 10% of the greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere are due to deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.

The emission of the greenhouse gasses is worsened by burning as the main process involved in deforestation. During the burning, a vast quantity of carbon dioxide goes into the atmosphere hence altering the level of carbon dioxide globally (Goudie, 2006), besides affecting the quality of air in Brazil. The fires are always planned to clear only specific regions intended for Agriculture, however, this has not been the case since the burning has always extended into unintended areas.  In 2005, the burning was overdone that it led to health effects on human beings. The Airport was closed, and many were hospitalized due to inhalation of smoke.

Carbon in trees is vital in the development of the ecosystem and contributes positively to the climate in Brazil. However, deforestation leads to falling of the leaves which form hips of dead matter called slash. This then becomes food for some microorganisms and in the process of the consumption of the matter, production of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, by respiration. Also, organic carbon in the soil becomes depleted, and this creates an imbalance in the ecosystem

The rainforests in Brazil possesses enormous biological diversities. The forests are homes for millions of species known and unknown. The high rate of deforestation exposes these habits to risks of removal hence a threat to these species, which may lead to their extinction. The continued clearing also reduces the diverse provision of the medicinal plants that has helped in curing the global killers like cancers and AIDS.

Conclusion

This paper has highlighted issues relating to the origination of deforestation in Brazil and the evident effects of the same. The history of deforestation has been narrated from the 1960s with the main purpose of conducting it being for agricultural activities. Deforestation was noted to increase in the 1970s and was enhanced by a land law enacted to make provision to successful cultivators of the land besides other reasons. The analysis has also considered the role of colonialists in the deforestation process in Brazil. The colonialists have been noted as the pioneers in this process. The main effects of deforestation recognized in this analysis include global climatic change. This is identified to be contributing to the high level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and other greenhouse gasses. Besides, deforestation has led to the removal of the habit to many species and medicinal plants.

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  1. Goudie, A. (2006). The Human Impact on the Natural Environment. The MIT Press.
  2. Hall, A. (1989). Developing Amazonia. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
  3. Middleton, N. (2013). The Global Casino: Antroduction to Environmental Issues . Hodder Education.
  4. Watkins & Griffiths. (2000). Forest Destruction and Sustainable Agriculture in the Brazilian Amazon. Dissertation Abstracts International, 15-17.
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