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Forests of Brazil

Causes of deforestation in Brazil

The main threat to forests worldwide particularly upon Brazilian forests is logging. Logging accounts for endangering 70% of all natural forests in the world.

The Amazon forest is a dynamic environment. Seasonal hurricanes cause landslides, floods and trees to fall. Fires start as a result of high temperatures and unusually dry conditions or as a result of small-scale slash and burn agriculture. Natural disturbances and small-scale human impact cause tree deaths and gaps in the canopy but the forest recovers. If however large areas are deforested and turned to pasture then the natural mechanisms of regeneration are lost.

Land clearing by small-scale farmers and illegal logging practices are widespread in the Amazon region. As a result of illegal logging and farming, an area of the Amazon rainforest larger than Hawaii was destroyed in 2000 according to the Brazilian government's annual report on devastation of the world's largest rain forest.

Fires lit by farmers to clear vegetation for pastures have also been responsible for almost half of all the area burned in the Amazon region. When areas of forests are cleared the dead material that remains is more combustible than the living plants of the forest. In addition gaps in the canopy mean sunlight is able to reach the forest floor to dry it out and cause this potentially combustible fuel to ignite. The result of deforestation has been an increase in the number of spontaneous forest fires.

Major foreign investors from Asia, North America and Europe continue to expand their operations in Northern and Western Amazon. There are 22 foreign mills operating in the region with very little enforcement and control by government agencies.

Energy exploration, gold and diamond mining and oil exploration are a large threat to one-third of the forests in the Amazon region.

Deforestation causes the loss of habitat and species diversity. The rich wildlife in the forest reflects the abundance of natural habitats provided. The most threatened animals in Brazil originate in the Atlantic rainforest. As a result of continual logging, land clearing, excessive vegetation removal and pollution only 5% of the original Atlantic rainforest on the East Coast of Brazil remains.

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