A Forest of Tragedy


Graphic created by Grace James

World News: A Forest of Tragedy

Hannah Lind, Yearbook Editor and Writer

The largest tropical rainforest in the world, the Amazon Rainforest, for years has dealt with many devastations. This rainforest covers northwestern Brazil and parts of Colombia, Peru, and other South American countries. However, while many view this rainforest has highly important, others overuse its resource. The Amazon Rainforest has experienced huge amounts of deforestation due to farmers needing land for crops and animal raising, the growing need for minerals in the soil, and land for towns. This forest has also suffered illegal logging and colonization projects. Though in more recent news, the Amazon is experiencing what may be the biggest tragedy of all: forest fire. Parts of the rainforest have always been burned. This is because farmers burn dead and dying trees in order to clear land for farming and cattle raising purposes. This year, however, deforestation has spiked causing an increase of fires in the rainforest. Since July, a total of 7,200 square miles of the forest has been caught up in smoke and flames. Since last year, scientist satellites have found 76,000 fires burning up the Amazon and noticed more fires this year. They even expect the number to continue to increase in the following months, according to National Geographic.

With the recent increase of burning it is likely that the Amazon will develop into a completely different ecosystem. This is because fewer trees will lead to fewer habitats for species of both other plants and animals. There is a chance that some species could disappear entirely from this ecosystem. Also, a decrease in canopy trees located in the Amazon will allow for shorter and lower growing plants to sprout more. An article describing the changes the Amazon will face due to the growing fires explains how there is also a decline of fruit growing trees in the forest that with largely affect the populations of parrots and monkeys in the region significantly. 

Not only is this burning tragedy affecting Brazilian regions, but also the entire world. When trees burn, they admit carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. With large amounts of the forests burning, this will lead to an increase of carbon dioxide being released. For example, when only 0.2% of the Amazon burned in 2016, there was a release of 30m tons of carbon dioxide. The amount emitted during recent burnings would be higher since more is burning. Unfortunately, Brazil won’t be able to examine the extent of the damage until the fires stop and they have the chance to asses the tragedy as a whole.