The Amazon rainforest globally important

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					The Amazon rainforest spans 6.74 million sq. km taking in Brazil, Peru,
Columbia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, Ecuador, and French Guiana. It is
the world's largest and most spectacular rainforest, representing over
40% of the world's remaining tropical forests.       But despite the
Amazon's clearly vast expanse, human activity, including logging,
agricultural expansion and infrastructure development, has destroyed a
significant amount of forest since the 1960s. Humans have lived in the
Amazon for thousands of years but the forest remained largely in tact
until about 50 years ago.       Deforestation has been a rising problem
for the past five decades or so and it's estimated that around a fifth of
the original forest is already gone. So why is this an issue and why
should people living on the other side of the world care?       Well,
first of all, the world's rainforests are absolutely vital in slowing
global warming as they absorb and store carbon dioxide. But once a tree
is cut down and burnt or left to rot, the stored carbon is released back
into the atmosphere. This means the trees that once helped reduce
greenhouse gases now contribute to global warming instead. Deforestation
is today responsible for around 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Furthermore, the rainforests are called rainforests for a reason. They
play a vital part in regulating the climate by pumping large amounts of
water vapour into the atmosphere and driving the regional water cycle.
The Amazon acts like a global thermostat, cooling the air and generating
rainfall, which is important for agriculture across South America.
The Amazon rainforest is also home to around 30 million people, including
indigenous tribes who have depended on the forest for many generations.
The Amazon is a vital source of food, shelter and livelihoods. Its
destruction threatens access to these important resources as well as
traditional ways of life.      However, deforestation in the Amazon isn't
just a risk to the future of humans. The rainforest is home to as much as
one tenth of the Earth's known species of plants and animals. Many of
these can only be found in the Amazon and it is believed that thousands
of species have yet to be discovered by science.       The rainforest is
also a source of products that we value here in the UK, like cocoa, nuts,
fruit and timber - not to mention the hundreds of plants that are used to
treat illnesses, including cancer and heart problems        Whilst all
this seems pretty grim on the surface, the good news is that it really
isn't too late to make a difference. Thanks to high-tech satellite
monitoring and both national and international initiatives to deter
destructive activity such as illegal logging, recent reports indicate
that deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is starting to slow,
That's not to say we can afford sit back and watch. Unfortunately, a lot
of the things we do here in the UK, such as the things we buy, the food
we eat and the energy we use, are having a negative effect on the Amazon.
By making changes, both small and large, in the way we live and by
supporting initiatives to help protect rainforests, we can help put a
stop to its destruction. The Amazon and all the other rainforests of the
world are essential to people and species across the planet and it's
everyone's duty to look after them.     Related Articles - Amazon
Rainforest, Amazon Rainforest Brazil,   Email this Article to a
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