The Amazon Basin and its harvest
[I am really sorry that my report became so long. But I would be really glad to receive some feedback, especially on the writing faults I made. Thank you straight away. I hope I didn't make to many mistakes.]
The Amazon Basin, a region in eastern Brazil has been the home for many Amazon tribes over hundreds of years. They lived in harmony with the nature and its ecosystem, separated in their own paradise. But today this harmony seems to be destroyed. The human activity in forests grows everyday for the demands and wants of only one species the human.
Since the rubber boom in the 1950s about 80,000 sq km were cleared, leaving a field of destruction. Instead of thinking about regeneration programs it became even worse. Farmers tried to use the land using toxic weeds which killed 10 to 15 percent of stock. But instead of getting something from the fields they got nothing. The soil was too thin and unsuitable for agriculture. But colonization of the Amazon Basin went on. Between 1968 and 1978 the population increased from only 100,000 to 2.5 million. Attracted from the projects like the Jari or Carajas project those people came to the Amazon Basin.
But unfortunately the Jari project did not earn much. It was started from an American industrialist Daniel K. Ludwig who did not do sufficient analysis about the soils and the possible land use. Instead he just bought some random 16,000 sq km rainforest and planted them with pine and rice. The result was that the plants did not grow, hindered by the extreme climate and the thin soils including pests.
In contrast the Carajas project some years later was a full success. The expected minerals (gold and copper) were found and many workers received enough money to feed their families. But unfortunately this project had a hook as well. All in all 1.5 million hectares rainforests were felled. This destruction was a burden for the nature which can’t be replaced.
But still today this grubbing takes place. Every year Brazil appears under the biggest tropical timber producers all over the world. The numbers of 42,100 in 1989 certainly decreased to 15,000 but in the last few years a small growth was observed. For the native people this can often mean more work and more money but native Indians have a completely other perspective to this subject.
They describe themselves as dependent of the forest. It provides food, water and all what they need to live. Often the rainforest is even described as “Mother Earth”.
This traditional way of thinking is also seen in the use of the forest. For instance they use shifting cultivation to protect the nature. At the first view this method seems to e just slashing and burning. But behind the destroyable principle is a method. For instance the Bora people use a 30-year swidden cycle. This way the forest always gets enough time to regenerate.
Another common cultivation method is seasonal cultivation. In the most cases it occurs naturally in case of flooding which carries new segments to flood plains. Those segments soon develop into manioc and bananas. All in all this cycle operates quite similar to shifting cultivation but the cycle occurs once or twice per year rather than every 30 years and the cultivation.
However, both cycles use natural cycles of the tropical rainforest ecosystem to maintain crop production without upsetting the natural balance. Shifting cultivation for example interacts with the humus cycle while seasonal cultivation intercepts with the regular flooding.
But there is also another important factor which will decide over the future of the Amazon Basin, the growth of our species. Over the last few hundred years our species has grown in incredible speed. Still today the currently estimated number nearly reaches 7 billion. But the demands and wants of those people can only be satisfied with the harvest of all our resources, often reflected by the Western culture.
For me those both perspectives have to be balanced. The use of the rainforest is certainly not good but we probably would all agree that we need food to survive. Therefore I would certainly agree to use the resources of the rainforest, if we needed them really badly. But the harvest for tropical timber to build expensive tables is obviously not a sufficient reason.
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