Tropical Rainforest Destruction: Reasons and Consequences

When we think of rainforests, most of us think of the tropics – those forests between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn, including South America. Temperate Rainforests exist in more temperate regions, between the tropics and the poles, including North America.

The destruction of these forests is contributing to Global Warming and is a factor in the atmosphere’s high carbon dioxide levels. Those levels are now 27 percent higher than they have been in half a million years.

Destroying one tree prevents it from storing 1.5 tons of carbon – and it releases stored carbon back into the atmosphere.

And nowhere is the wholesale destruction of the rainforest more evident than in the tropics. Rainforests once covered 14 percent of the Earth’s surface, they now cover just 6 percent. The remaining forests could be consumed by the middle of this century.

The consequences are devastating:

  • We are losing an estimated 137 plant, insect and animal species each day – or more than 50,00 species per year.
  • 25 percent of Western pharmaceuticals are derived from the rain forest – yet less than 1 percent of plants and trees have been tested.
  • More than half of the world’s 10 million species call the tropical rainforests home.
  • Nearly 80 percent of the developing world’s diet originated in the rainforest.
  • Of the 3,000 fruits found in the rainforest, only 200 are used by Western civilization.

Reasons for destruction include:

  • Logging for hardwood: Logging concessions in the Amazon go for as little as $2 acre.
  • Fuel wood and paper: One power plant and pulp mill in the Brazilian Amazon resulted in the burning of 5.600 square miles of rainforest. The plant consumes 2,000 tons of rainforest wood every day.
  • Grazing land
  • Subsistence farming

At Rainforest Maker, we urge you to make a donation or otherwise get involved in saving this precious resource for the next generation. Visit us at