Amazon Rainforest Deforestation: Facts & Statistics

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
This lesson goes over some astonishing facts and statistics about Amazon deforestation. You'll learn why it occurs, how much land has been lost, and if it's getting any better or worse.

The Amazon Rainforest

What is the name of the largest rainforest in the world? What's the name of the place that contains the largest river by water volume? Or, according to some, the longest river in the world as well?

It's the Amazon rainforest, located in South America. As gigantic as this rainforest is, it's also constantly being threatened with numerous environmental problems, one of which is deforestation, or the clearing of trees.

This lesson goes over some incredible statistics and facts related to the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.

Deforestation Stats

Depending on which estimates you believe, the amount of forest the Amazon has lost in the last 30-40 years is about 20% of its levels before that time. In the country of Brazil alone, which has some of the most detailed deforestation data, this equates to roughly 770,000 square km, which is larger than the total area of the state of Texas! To put this another way, in the last four decades, people have cut down a larger chunk of the Amazon rainforest than in the previous 450 years combined!

There is one good piece of news, however. Over the last decade or so, the rate of deforestation has decreased a bit, although it's still happening at an alarming rate nonetheless. Currently, the Amazon loses an area of forest equivalent to about the size of Delaware every single year in Brazil alone.

Deforestation Facts

So why is so much of the rainforest being lost every single year? If only there were one reason, it would be a bit easier to stop! The fact of the matter is, there are a lot of causes for this deforestation. One of the biggest culprits is cattle ranching, which accounts for about 70% of the deforestation the Amazon experiences every year as ranchers clear the jungle for their cattle.

Illegal poaching of wood is another reason for the destruction. Some areas are cleared of wood for reasons that have nothing to do with harvesting the trees. Massive areas of rainforest are simply destroyed while people look for extremely small quantities of gold. Because there is so little gold in the rainforest, huge sections of land must be completely upended in order to accumulate just a little bit of what may eventually become jewelry.

Other reasons for the deforestation include the search for oil as well as the construction of roads and ever-expanding cities.

The Future

The future is uncertain for the Amazon rainforest. Some estimates claim that another 20% of the rainforest will be lost in just the next 20 years alone. Other statistics point to generally decreasing rates of deforestation in the past decade, at least in some areas of the forest. These decreases could be attributed to better laws, better law enforcement, the increase of protected areas, as well as pressure from environmental groups and even consumers for more sustainable food and products.

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