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The dissapearing rainforest

All over the world, ancient forests are in crisis. Many of the plants and animals that live in these forests faceextinction. And many of the people and cultures who depend on these forests for their way of life are also under threat.

Before the end of this lesson another hectare of the world’s forests will be destroyed forever. Why is this happening? There are two reasons – land and wood. In many countries the trees have been cut down because the land was needed for animals or crops. In other parts of the world the trees are cut down because their wood is wanted. This wood is used by the local people for firewood. Or it is exported to Japan, Europe and North America. There it is used for buildings or it is made into furniture.

Unfortunately, in most places the trees won’t be replaced. The soil in the forests is very thin, but it is protected by the trees. When the trees are cut down, the soil is washed away by the rain or blown away by the wind. Soon nothing can by grown on it. The forest becomes a desert. Then more land will be needed and more trees will be cut down.

These ancient forests are home to millions of people who depend on them for their survival - both physically and spiritually. These forests also house hundreds of thousands speciesof plants and animals, and also millions of insects - their futures also depend on the ancient forests.

At the moment there are between five and ten million species of animals and plants on the Earth. By the year 2000, one million of these will be extinct – that’s one species every hour. All kinds of species are in danger – fish, reptiles, birds, mammals, insects and shellfish – as well as thousands of plants.

Who is to blame for this disaster? The answer is simple: all of us. There are just too many people in the world. The world’s population is now over one billion people. Of course, it’s very easy to blame the local people. We don’t chop down trees. They do. But the products are bought by people like you and me – the hi-fi with its teak loudspeakers, or the nice mahogany chairs. Why are the forests being destroyed? Just look around. You’re probably sitting on it or listening to it.

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