What is the biggest threat to rainforests?

Justin Cooke, Feb 2016.
Photo Credit: (Rhett A. Butler, 2009)

Photo Credit: (Rhett A. Butler, 2009)

Our rainforests are rapidly undergoing massive deforestation, which is fairly common knowledge these days, however the reason this is happening is not talked about nearly as often. What is the cause you ask? Currently, one of the biggest threats to these forests is actually unsustainable forms of agriculture.

Our dense, lush rainforests are being stripped down to nothing so that crops, and other forms of agriculture can be implemented on the space. The major issue, and unfortunate irony with this, is that the soil contained in rainforests, are very low in nutrients, and cannot support healthy growth again. The vast majority of energy in rainforests are contained in the biomass (the plants and animals living in the forest). This happens because when something in these forests die, the nutrients are decomposed and re-distributed into the surrounding life so fast that it never gets a chance to sit around in the soil. In effect, it is death that supports life. If large amounts of biomass are removed from these forests (which is currently taking place on a massive scale), it is extremely difficult for new plants and organisms to thrive here again in the nutrient poor soil left behind. (ARCAmazon, 2015).

Image credit: (Rhett A. Butler, 2009)

Image credit: (Rhett A. Butler, 2009)

Currently, logging, and crops like soy and palm oil are being used in place of once dense patches of jungle. The short sighted, and selfish gains do us no good as residents of this planet, and endanger the lives of all the creatures currently residing in these rainforests. 

The Amazon rainforest accounts for roughly 20% of the worlds oxygen production, 25% of the worlds fresh water, and about half of the worlds species of plants, and insects (Medicine hunter, 2009). This rainforest also contains a rich source of medicinal plants, many of which have likely never been discovered. 

So in reality, our planets greatest resources is being chopped down, and replaced with unsustainable, and short-sighted resources in its place. It does not take a PhD in environmental sciences to see that this does not make any sense. 

Organizations like ARCAmazon are doing a great job with slowing the rate of this destruction, and supporting research into the true value the Amazon. I suggest you check them out.


ARCAmazon.(2015, April 18). Unsustainable Agriculture Biggest Threat To Rainforests. Retrieved from conservetheamazon.org/unsustainable-agriculture-threatens-rainforest/

Medicine hunter. (2009). Amazon Rainforest Facts | Medicine Hunter. Retrieved February 29, 2016, from http://www.medicinehunter.com/amazon-rainforest-facts

Rhett A. Butler. (2009). Lone Brazil nut tree left standing in a deforested area [Photograph]. Retrieved from http://travel.mongabay.com/brazil/images/brazil_0322.html

Rhett A. Butler. (2009). Pasture and legal forest reserve near the Arc of Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon [Photograph]. Retrieved from http://travel.mongabay.com/brazil/images/brazil_0568.html