The Amazon Rainforest has evolved over millions of years to turn into the incredibly complex environments they are today. Rainforests represent a store of living and breathing renewable natural resources that for years, by virtue of their richness in both animal and plant species, have contributed a wealth of resources for the survival and well-being of humankind. These resources have included basic food supplies, clothing, shelter, fuel, spices, industrial raw materials, and medicine for all those who have lived in the magnificence of the forest. However, the inner dynamics of a tropical rainforest is an intricate and fragile system. Everything is so dependent that upsetting one part can lead to unknown damage or even destruction of the whole. Although it is portrayed to the public that deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest includes several benefits, there are underlining factors that prove deforestation is hurting more than just the environment.
One factor that isn’t often discussed regarding deforestation of the Amazon is the loss of biodiversity within the rainforest. Thousands of wonderful species of plants and animals have been lost, and others remain endangered. According to Alexander Cockburn and Susanna B. Hecht, authors of The Fate of the Forest, more than 80% of the world's species remain in the Amazon Rainforest. Tragically, they also claim that it is estimated that about fifty to one hundred species of animals are being lost each day as a result of destruction of their habitats. Many of the world’s most beautiful creatures, both plants and animals, have vanished from the face of the earth due to deforestation.
The wildlife of the Amazon Rainforest is important for multiple reasons, including the fact that animals help balance the ecosystem involving the food chain, maintaining the balance of life. Due to the increase of wildlife extinction, continuous efforts are being made by anxious animal lovers to protect the endangered species of wildlife as well as those on the verge of extinction and hope to save the world from running out its green heritage. To promote wildlife awareness among people, author Simon Romero from the New York Times notes that governments across South America have started various natural projects and programs such as Project Tiger, Nature Camps and Jungle Lodges. These projects not only help to preserve the natural heritage, but encourage eco-tourism to provide awareness for individuals all over the globe about the amazing wonders of the rainforest.
The growing demand by the industrialized world for agricultural products such as beef has led to millions of acres of forestland being bulldozed or burned to create pastures for cattle, especially in areas of Brazil where the rainforest is lush and rich in plant life. Cockburn and Hecht expose the tragic irony of this expansion for agriculture in the fact that the soil underlying the trees is often unsuited for pastureland or raising other crops (28). Exposed to sunlight, the soil is quickly depleted of nutrients and often hardens. The once beautiful green land becomes a parched desert, prone to erosion that may never return to forest. As the soil becomes less fertile, hardy weeds begin to choke out the desirable forage plants, and the cattle ranchers move to clear a fresh tract, continuing on an unfortunate path of constant rainforest destruction.
Other effects of deforestation may be less obvious to the public. Deforestation can lead to increased flooding during rainy seasons. Rainwater that once would have been slowed or absorbed by trees instead runs off hillsides, pushing rivers over their banks and causing devastating floods downstream. The role of forests in regulating water has long been recognized by engineers and foresters. Besides the increase in flooding in the Amazon, author Michael Williams adds that due to the fertilizers used on the brand-new farm land, the flood water naturally goes into