Should Logging the Rainforest be Allowed to Continue

Deforestation of tropical forests is occurring at a rapid pace. Rainforests are among the richest and most diverse terrestrial systems and are home to a great many biological communities, called biomes. Although they take up less than ten percent of the earth’s land surface, they contain more than two-thirds of all higher plant biomass and at least half of all the plant, animal, and microbial species in the world.

Brazil has the highest total deforestation rate in the world, but also has the largest tropical forests. Indonesia and Malaysia are also losing as much primary forest each year as Brazil. And in 1977, Borneo and Sumatra saw drought and severe forest fires that were reportedly set to clear land for agriculture and hide illegal logging operations. Most of the coastal forests of Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Madagascar, Cameroon, and Liberia already have been mostly destroyed.

But the most disturbing deforestation is in Brazil, where an area occupying a large part of Brazil called the Cerrado is being deforested for cattle farming and growing crops. The size of the Cerrado is roughly the size of our U.S. Midwest. It is home to at least 130,000 different plant and animal species. Granted, use of this much land helps feed the world’s population and exports include over 40 new types of soybeans that have been developed with China and Japan the largest consumers. But small family farming operations and others of the native population have been forced into other areas that cannot sustain them. The people are displaced and living in unhealthy conditions while they wait to be relocated.

The old growth forests are no longer a source of protection for the wildlife and birds, and they no longer shield the soil from the sun’s harmful tropical rays. Erosion of the soil is common as the trees are no longer holding it in place. The biodiversity of the rainforest is seriously threatened in many ways and sometimes lost altogether as logging continues in order to provide tillable soil.

So the question seems to come down to whether logging should be allowed to decimate the rainforest in order to feed the rapidly increasing population of the world, or should it be stopped to protect the forests themselves, the natural habitat of some people and many species of plants and animals. Of course, some compromise seems a likely solution, and there are methods being used to provide some protection for tropical rainforests and their inhabitants, and at the same time, provide food for the masses.

This question has sparked bitter and deadly conflict between poor farmers and big landowners, and has led to violent confrontations. Clashes over land rights are common. Even though more high-quality food is now available to feed portions of the world, it is at the cost of tropical forests, their inhabitants, and in some cases, human life. It seems only fair that a compromise should be sought to limit further deforestation and logging operations, and to find alternative ways to feed a growing human population for generations to come.