Endangerment of the tropics



Freshly cutted down.

Both, dimension of the already destroyed area and rate of progress of disastrous development are alarming. Meanwhile more than the half of the unique ecosystem tropical rainforest are irretrievably destroyed. And madness is continuing. Until now, rate of rainforest destruction is only marginal decreased.

A sole waiver of the usage of tropical timbers is not enough. Reasons are multifarious, equally multifarious must be the efforts for preservation of tropical rainforests. Whose continuity is not only in respect of clima protection in the interest of us all.

Nobody might surely estimate how many animal and plants species are already extinct. Some species are known, but the majority will darkle in time forever, because until now it existed not even a scientific description of these species.



Logging truck with cutted giants..

Most people might be conscious of the problems of the trade with tropical timbers. Especially teak, mahagony, ebony wood, ironwood, merandi and rosewood are exported. Advantages of these timbers are a high resistance to weather as well as the absence of annual rings due to a constant growth.

But even a selective logging, therefore only a targeted withdrawal of precious timbers with a simultaneous leaving of the remaining trees, has catastrophic consequences. An analysis of satellite imagery showed a complete decay of observed regions by a sixth after one year and by a third after four years. According to this, the sensitive ecosystem is sustainably and sensitively disturbed by a targeted withdrawal of a few jungle giants.

A further problem is illegal logging. This is only to encounter by establishment of national parks and a rigorous state surveillance.

Slash and burn method, shifting cultivation

The by logging degraded forest will be later partially further exploited. Trees with inferior wood are cutted down as building timber or for paper industry. Afterwards rest areas mostly fall prey to the slash-and-burn method to can farm the areas as plantations.

Flaring produces ash which acts as fertilizer the first years. After several years productivity of the fields decreases quickly, vegetation withers away, nutrients are sluiced out resepctively thin humus layer is flushed away by erosion. The field is abandoned and the next area falls prey to the slash-and-burn method.

Livestock breeding

Livestock breeding is one of the main factors for rainforest destruction, especially in South America. And that in even two accounts. For example in Brazil giant areas were converted into pasturages for cattle farming. The so produced meat is among others manufactured by a great American fast food chain.

Other areas were mainly converted into soya fields. By industrial nations soya is manufactured to concentrated feed and is then used as animal food for German cattles for example.



Illegal logging. The cutted tree is right on the spot dissected into handy planks.

A paradox of environment protection is the triumph of the oil palm which is likewise a defeat of biodiversity. The fruits of the originally from Africa originating oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) are manufactured to palm oil. In the nineties of the last century palm oil found especially a use in cosmetic industry. In the last ten years increasing amaounts are manufactured to „bio“-fuel. Worldwide demand is soaring, so that more and more areas are converted into palm oil plantations. Indonesia is specially affected by this development.

Biofuel produced from palm oil is not even suitable for ecological conscience, at least if oil palms are cultivated on freshly cleared areas. According to several calculations climate balance is negative, by using palm oil less carbon dioxide is saved than by logging and slash-and-burn is released before.

Raw materials

Not least rainforests cover also deposits of several raw materials. Because of continuously increasing prices of raw materials it is appreciably profitabel to exploit also inaccessible regions. In Borneo is mainly coal mined in opencast mining, in other tropical regions there are gold and other raw materials.

Measures, concepts for rainforest conservation

Main prime mover for rainforest destruction are pecuniary interests. Besides logging, therefore a direct commercial exploitation of rainforests by selling tropical timbers, a more and more important problem becomes creating of croplands for products, which bring in revenues. We, the industrial nations, are the consumer of these products. Therefore we are indirect accountable for rainforest destruction. It is a billion market, albeit local people only marginally partake in receipts. Unaltered most natives carve out a miserable existence, earned money end up in the pockets of a very few.

However, we do not have to stand back and resigned to this downward spiral. To espouse for preservation of the remaining rainforests, there is no need for chaining oneself as an „ecoterrorist“ to a rainforest giant. Each and every one of us can contribute one’s mite by a more conscious acting. From many similar modifications of individual consumers results at the end of the day an influential consumer power.

I think for rainforest preservation are three components deciding:

  • Our pluralistic society bases increasingly on lobbyism. The more powerful-voiced a lobby is, all the more influence it has in politics. Unfortunately lobby of rainforest preservation is minuscule in view of facing economic interests. Become a member of rainforest preservation lobby. Engage yourself, raise the awareness of your environment for this problem and fascinate them for the heritage of evolution.
  • Check your consumer behaviour. Avoid products which either derive themselves from rainforest or for whose production rainforest was destroyed.
  • Rainforest preservation will not work without support of local population. Only if local population see also an intrinsic value in an intact rainforest, the joint fight will have in prospect to achieve success in the long run. As often money is the most important motivation instrument – money which arrives local population. The spread reaches from ecotourism to buying Fairtrade products.

From these reflections derives the following „ideas list“:

  • If you do not want to miss tropical timbers, at least take care, that the timbers have a FSC certificate or a Naturland seal and so probably come from a sustainable forestry.
  • Each fifth tree worldwide is manufactured to paper. With the Blue Angel is for more than two decades a trustworthy labelling of paper products available, which are made to 100% from recycled paper.
  • FAIRTRADE: the Transfair-seal. Thus marked products are indeed a shade higher in price than ready-made products, however, the higher price benefits almost to hundred per cent the farmers of the Third World. FAIRTRADE stands not only for a sustainable and environmentally compatible economic management, but also supports social development (prohibition of child labour, compliance with compulsory school attendance, equal opportunities for women).
  • To reconsider your own meat consumption and to reduce where necessary. At first some information on meat production. For the production of 1 kilogramme meat are 12 kilogrammes cereals needed. On the same agricultural area could be produced circa 150 kg potatoes in the same period. Climate is burdened 13 times as much than in case of a vegetarian diet. Unless you do not want to reduce your meat consumption: Maybe you will buy next time local produced meat of cattles, which were fed with local feedingstuff instead of soya.
  • Adduce your voice for rainforest preservation. Some difficulties are complex, so that they can not be influenced by a modification of your consumption behaviour. At this point higher levels are asked. Many organisations take a stand for rainforest preservation. But they need support, your support, equally whether as active member or by a small donation which, by the way, can be claimed as tax exempt after receiving a donation receipt. Besides many problems demand a solution in politics. You can also here exercise your influence. At the end, policy operates on similar principles as economy, it is oriented towards the mainstream. Let us cause an active rainforest preservation to a German consensus opinion.