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Description: Brazil Notes and Research
Date Completed: May 21, 2001
My Thoughts: To do my research on the rainforests of Brazil, I created a list of questions on what I wanted to know about rainforests and the rainforests in Brazil. I then found the answers to these questions. I also included a list of resources with my notes and research.
The Rainforests of Brazil

Questions:
What is a rain forest?
What is a rain forest's importance to the environment as a whole?
Just how much danger currently exists to rain forest habitats?
Why wouldn't people want to protect rainforests?
What about rainforests in Brazil?
What has Brazil done to protect the forests?


 

Questions with Answers

What is a rain forest?

The term "rainforest" means more than a forest in a rainy area.
has of broad-leaved trees that form a canopy,
dense upper layer of greenery makes a rainforest what it is.
canopy protects the vegetation and ecology at ground level from the sun hosts an ecosystem almost separate from the one on the ground

What is a rain forest's importance to the environment as a whole?

Only 7% of the world's land surface is covered by rainforests,
home to more than 50% of the world's land and animal species
Studied by zoologist, entomologists, and other biologists
concept of biodiversity = the large number of creatures in this habitat

Tropical Rain Forest Information Center says, "Many of these plants and animals of the rain forest can only be found in small areas of them, because they require a special habitat to live. This makes them very vulnerable to deforestation. If their habitat is cut down, they may become extinct. Every day species are disappearing from the tropical rainforests as they are cut. We do not know the exact rate of extinction, but estimates range from one to 137 species disappearing worldwide per day (Stork 1996, Rainforest Action Network 1998)."

What about rainforests in Brazil?

Brazil has the largest rainforest in the world.
over half of Brazil consists of forested terrain (not all rainforest).
government has tried to pass laws and reward Brazilians who allow the forests to grow
economic situation makes it difficult to protect

Why wouldn't people want to protect rainforests?

agriculture so important to Brazil's economy
difficult to protect becuase farmers and others see undeveloped land as possible income.
rainforest benefits the world but it's unfair to Briazlians that they can't use their land to live better
http://www.britannica.com/bcom/magazine/article/0,5744,384288,00.html?query=brazil

Just how much danger currently exists to rain forest habitats?
"The most recent figures by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimate tropical deforestation (of the rain forest and other tropical forests) at 53,000 square miles per year (15.4 x 106 ha/yr) during the 1980s (FAO 1993). Of this, they estimate that 21,000 square miles (6.2 x 106 ha/yr) were deforested annually in South America, most of this in the Amazon Basin. Based on these estimates, each year an area of tropical forest large enough to cover North Carolina is deforested. Each year!
"The rate of deforestation varies from region to region. Basic Science and Remote Sensing Initiative's (BSRSI) research showed that in the Brazilian Amazon, the rate if deforestation was around 6200 square miles per year (1.8 x 106 ha/yr) from 1978-1986, but fell to 4800 sq. miles per year (1.4 x 106 ha/yr) from 1986-1993 (Skole and Tucker 1993). By 1988, 6% of the Brazilian Amazon had been cut down (90,000 square miles, about the area of New England). However, due to the isolation of fragments and the increase in the boundaries of the forest and clearings, a total of 16.5% of the forest (230,000 square miles, nearly the size of Texas) was affected by deforestation. NASA-funded scientists are currently analyzing rates of deforestation for the current decade, as well as studying how deforestation changes from year to year."
(from The Tropical Rain Forest Information Center)
http://bsrsi.msu.edu/rfrc/status.html

Size of Texas
http://www.governor.state.tx.us/Texas/facts_figures.html

What has Brazil done to protect the forests?

In September 1999, Brazil passed Environmental Crimes Law.
This law can require fines of up to US$260 per cubic meter of destroyed forest.
http://www.brasilemb.org/environment/envlaw.htm


Sources

Brazilian Embassy in Washington
http://www.brasilemb.org/environment/envlaw.htm
The text of Brazil's Environmental Crimes Law.

Amazonia.net
http://www.amazonia.net/Articles/393.htm
This article discusses the government's current treatment of peoples indigenous to the Brazilian rainforests.

Britannica.com
BACKGROUND NOTES ON COUNTRIES OF THE WORLD; JULY 08, 2000: BRAZIL
http://www.britannica.com/bcom/magazine/article/0,5744,384288,00.html?query=brazil
Facts about Brazil.

The Tropical Rain Forest Information Center
http://www.bsrsi.msu.edu/trfic/index.html
The Center provides a variety of facts and articles about the world's various rainforests.

Texas Governor
http://www.governor.state.tx.us/Texas/facts_figures.html
Facts about Texas provided by the governor's office.