|"In the time it takes to read this article, an area of Brazil's rain forest larger than 200 football fields will have been destroyed"1 That is a difficult sentence to both read and try to comprehend the type of impact it depicts. The basic boiling point is that the Amazon rainforest had suffered severe degradation over the past 4 decades, and the trend does not show any signs of diminishing or winding down. Deforestation, as a descriptive term, has existed for the better part of the last century, but continued to evolve from basic colonial expansion to the current scene of "loggers, ranchers, cattle ranchers, and miners"2 all looking to cash in on their business ventures, while disregarding the harm they do to the environment.
Because of the massive effect these companies and their exploits are having on the Amazon, they are forever changing the environmental scene. A scene that has existed for millennia before man was here, and without our meddling, would continue to exist for millennia if man were to be gone. Only taking logging into account, the effects on the landscape continue to worsen, even after the initial goal is completed. "In Brazil, the events set in motion by logging are almost always more destructive than the logging itself. Once the trees are extracted and the loggers have moved on, the roads serve as conduits for an explosive mix of squatters, speculators, ranchers, farmers, and invariably, hired gunmen."3 Not only is the original act causing the land to suffer, but the after-effects are opening the land to undesirables who perpetuate even more deforestation and negative social and criminal elements.
The Amazon rainforest is situated across the Northern width of South America, existing in "Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guyana".4 While it touches upon all of these countries, the largest forest in the world mainly exists in Brazil, covering "nearly 70 percent"5 of the country.
The forest, which in most places is so thick it's hard to traverse, has been unnaturally opened by the logging, ranching, farming, and mining practices of off government sanctioned roads and byways so that there is now over "105,000 miles made illegally"7 to reach the multitude of operations hurting the forest from the inside out. In no country is this felt more stringently then Brazil, and in no country has the government attempted to counteract the exponential effect of continued deforestation. Included with this paper is a youtube video showing a satellite image of the land in Rondonia, Brazil, between the years 2000-2010.
Seeing the drastic effect being made on the rainforest, from logging specifically, the Brazilian government set about to more stringently enforce legal logging protocols, while cracking down on those found to be illegal. Immediately the Brazilian reform agency "Instituto Nacional de Colonização e Reforma Agrária, reviewed Amazonian land ownership records over the past three years, it voided more than 62,000 claims that appeared to be fraudulent".8 Also, because of limited manpower and to operate more efficiently the agents who are tasked with monitoring the rainforest in Brazil, known as IBAMA, are turning to the use of " satellite technology and remote sensing to alert them to the work of the grileiros"9, aka crickets, or those who are practicing these strong arm tactics of stealing land and creating phony land titles.
The Brazilian government even released numbers in August of 2007 showing that "The pace of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon fell by 25 percent in a recent 12-month period, according to recently released government figures...Between July 2005 and July 2006, the amount of cleared forest fell to about 5,400 square miles (14,000 square kilometers), as compared to 11,681 miles (18,800 kilometers) cut in the same period between 2004 and 2005."10 While these are hopeful numbers, the fact of the matter is that the agents given the responsibility of policing these illegal activities are short on manpower, and many times without proper equipment so that while they are supposed to have satellite imaging systems that give field agents the data they need to catch grileiros, one agent remarked, "We don't even have Internet in our office—it's a joke."11
Like any worldwide known problem, the issue of deforestation of the Amazon is a revolving "flash in the pan" type concern. Some international group, or well known celebrity may highlight the Amazon for a moment, and while their cause may not be short lived to them, in the mainstream media it may be focused on momentarily but inevitably will be pushed aside to usher in the newest latest bit of news. In this day and age of information access and immediate technology transfer there are too many causes to sift through, too many foundations and charities covering too many world and humanitarian blights, I fear that something like this will never again get the focus it deserves. Even if more people around the world did shine their spotlight on the Amazon, educating themselves on the danger it is facing every minutes of every day, it's not going to have any tangible effect if the governments and the people living in and around the Amazon rainforest don't dedicate themselves to stemming the tide of deforestation.