Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tropical Forest Preservation

Tropical forests inhabit warm, humid regions of the globe, and so they occur at or near the equator. Tropical growth covers about 6 percent of the world’s land area but contains at least two-thirds of all plant and animal species. Conservation of these forests affects biodiversity perhaps more than any other forest type, but several threats from human activities have made tropical forests very vulnerable to destruction. Primary threats represent the underlying factors that threaten almost all the world’s forests today. Poverty, population growth, climate change, and government policies are primary threats that contribute to the deforestation of tropical areas. Secondary threats, by contrast, exert immediate damage on tropical forests: logging, ranching, crops, and roads, for example.

Tropical forests have been particularly affected by poverty in developing countries for two reasons. First, governments may encourage deforestation in order to export products, and second, subsistence farming in impoverished areas decreases the forest little by little over time. The status of tropical forest loss due to these factors has not yet been determined in full because scientists have a difficult time monitoring forests, especially dense remote tropical forests. Illegal logging and mining, small-scale subsistence farming, and cultivation in remote places can go on for years before they are discovered and stopped.

Tropical forest restoration begins with the planting of native seedlings in degraded areas. Tropical forest soils normally lack sufficient nutrients, and intense cultivation and grazing depletes those few nutrients. For that reason soil rehabilitation accompanies tropical forest restoration. Sustainable harvesting methods can then be used in restored forests or original forests if timber harvesting remains necessary. Restoration remains a challenge because tropical forests are complex and largely unknown ecosystems located in regions where slash-and-burn logging and ranching have been the norm for a long time. These forests will likely never receive full protection without strong government support.

Sustainable harvesting makes use of reduced impact logging techniques to harvest trees at a rate no greater than the rate of tree replenishment. This objective has become very difficult to achieve as population increases and consumerism grows. Many of the resources that come out of tropical forests go to developed countries rather than the local economy. Ecotourism has proved to be another lucrative source of income that preserves these resources.

The fate of tropical forests rests on a combination of actions that originate at the local level and go to international programs. Any or all of these methods should be investigated further to save tropical forests from further destruction: sustainable forestry; new methods in logging and mining; alleviation of poverty to aid subsistence farming; ecotourism as an income source instead of lumber exports; and new methods of forest restoration. Most important, industries and governments must commit themselves to conservation plans. Without government help, tropical forests will likely continue to shrink in size until they become an endangered ecosystem.

Source of Information :  Green Technology Conservation Protecting Our Plant Resources

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