Forests of Brazil
Brazil contains one of the largest tropical rainforests in the world with greater than 40,000 kinds of plants and more species of trees than any other forest. In an area of 2.5 sq kms of tropical forest there are about 250 tree species compared with about seven tree species in an equal area of temperate forest. Two thirds of the Amazon forest is within Brazil and the remainder is in Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Surinam and Venezuela.
Brazil also has the highest rate of tree loss in the world. At present deforestation in Brazil particularly the Amazon region, which is home to 30% of the world's animal and plant life, is on the increase. Large scale resettlement of Brazils urban population, agriculture and resource developments especially for timber are the major contributors of loss and degradation of the Brazilian forests.
It is estimated that 43% of Brazil's total area of 5.26million km2 is frontier forest. Frontier forest is a large block of natural forest than has been relatively undisturbed and is able to support a wide range of animals and habitats. Brazil contributes 17% of the world's remaining frontier forest and has the third largest block of frontier forest in the world.
Since European settlement in Brazil there has been a continual practice of removing vegetation for farming and housing. The settlement of the Amazon region intensified in the 1960s, when the government's tax incentives began encouraging the establishment of farming and cattle ranching in the area.
Nearly 100,000 settlers arrive each year in the Amazonia region. Major concern about the logging process was aroused in the 1970s as people, settlements and industry moved into the rainforests. In the 1970s and 1980s, loggers and farmers cut down and burned vast stretches of the forest. International criticism since then prompted the government to begin action toward preservation.
The greatest increase in the rate of deforestation ever recorded occurred in Brazil in 1994 and 1995 with a tree loss of 29,000km2 per year. From 1980 to 1990, more than one fifth of all tropical forests lost around the globe were as result of the deforestation in Brazil. In 2000 the yearly rate of deforestation in the Amazon was 19,836km2 as compared to 13,000km2 per year of tree loss initiated since 1995.
Recent findings show that the deforestation in the Amazon is on the increase. During 2000, the rate of deforestation in the Amazon was greater than the rate of tree loss recorded since 1995. Logging and agricultural clearing were the main causes of the loss of an area about the size of Belgium during the last year between 2000 and 2001.
What you can do
Buy natural forest products that are made by companies that operate by fair trade practices and are environmentally responsible. Do not buy imported wood that encourages the destruction of forests in Brazil. If unsure, ask and research about the company.
Support forest action groups with a donation or volunteer to work with organisations, which promote the conservation of the Brazilian forests. Support eco-tours if you visit Brazil.
Do not buy imported hardwoods this will encourage the destruction of the world's rainforests. Use recycled timber when possible. Use timber in preference to non-renewable resources like metal and plastic.
Use recycled paper and help promote this product to your local council, government offices and schools. Environmentally friendly office paper is 100% recycled post consumer waste, or uses plantation timber and is without chlorine bleaching.
Send our letter to the Brazilian government. The letter is explained below in English. On the letter page of our web site however, it has been translated into Portuguese for the benefit of Brazilian readers.