The Rainforest Ecosystem

The Rainforest Ecosystem
The rainforests are highlighted on the map. They consist in Africa, Asia, Australia and South America; however in this report we will be focusing on the Brazilian rainforest. The Brazilian rainforest is located in the tropic of cancer. What: [image]The rainforest is not one ecosystem but millions of unique ecosystems. It is the central nervous system of our planet, a hot bed of evolution, life and diversity. Its home to over half of the worlds species and home to hundreds of humans. As you can see from the diagram. The rainforest is arranged in layers. The tallest trees are called emergent they are over 45m tall. The canopy blocks out 80% of the rainfall and 95% of the sunlight. Trees of the under canopy are about 25m tall. Finally the shrub layer is basically the forest floor, it is very dark as very little light reaches it. The rainforest consists of two cycles; the water cycle and the nutrient cycle. Without these cycles the rainforest wont even exist. Water cycle:It rains in the rainforest every night, due to daily heating of the forest; this causes transpiration out of the leaves and evaporation from surface water. This water rises as water vapour, before cooling, condensing and falling again as rain. Nutrient cycle:Leaves and twigs fall from the trees. This forms litter on the soil. This decomposes with the aid of bacteria and form humus; humus contains nutrients. Nutrients are released from the humus and return to the soil. The trees absorb the nutrients from the soil dissolved in water, through their roots. The nutrient cycle starts all over by the falling leaves and twigs. The nutrient cycle is very rapid, most of the soil fertility is found in the top part of the soil. Pachystachys sp.You can find a lot of unique plants in the rainforest. All the plants found in the rainforest have adapted in a certain way for e.g. the drip tip has adapted to cope with high rainfall. Many plants in the rainforest have drip tip leaves. The drip tips enable raindrops to run of quickly. Another example is lianas; lianas are climbing woody vines that drape forest trees. They have adapted to the rainforest by having their roots in the ground and climbing high into the canopy to reach sunlight. What interest groups see a value in the rainforest? are these local, national or global concerns? There are a lot of groups that see a value in the rainforest. [image]One interest group is the Indigenous peoplethey take a local interest in the rainforest because they use they live in the rainforest. They have adapted a lifestyle, which does not destroy the ecosystem. Kayapo, Xingu and Yumonami are a few tribes that live in the rainforest. They practice the ?slash and burn? agriculture; that?s when they remove enough canopy to sustain then they move to another part. The area regenerates as natural rainforest; it takes up to 60 years or more fro the trees to grow to their usual size. Sustain means to keep in existence without diminishing, to nourish. It means operating in such a way that a community does not use up all the resources. [image]Medicinesare another interest group. This takes a global interest in the rainforest. One in four of all medicines come from the plants in the rainforest. Quirne is for malaria; rosy periwinkle helps children with leukaemia. Cures for cancer and aids could also lay in the rainforest. They could be found if research continues. [image]Loggingis another interest group. They take a global and interest, because wood such as teak, mahogany, rosewood and ebony, are very popular in countries like usa and Britain, although 70% of all hardwoods end up in Japan. Also this is a national interest because Brazil owes billions of dollars to banks and other countries, so logging is one of the best ways for Brazil to make money. However to extract one tree many others are destroyed. This is because teak and etc. are found deep in the forest, and to get to them more trees have to be cut down to build roads to and from the trees. 50% of the rainforest has gone and it is estimated that by 2013 nothing will be left. How do the actitvities of these interest groups affect the environment and economy? is the matter of local, national or global concern? When groups like loggers, cattle ranchers, plantations, and e.t.c; cut down trees, this affects the environment and economy. The main concerns of the Brazilian government are, poverty, work, country welfare and debt. 33% of Brazilians live in poverty. Over 4 million people live in shantytowns on the edge of large cities. So developing industries and selling timber and non-timber goods is a way for an ledc to make money. The environment gets affected because the water and nutrient cycle is affected. This results to flooding, global warming, soil infertility and animals and humans loosing their homes. The nutrient cycle is affected because, there are very few trees left this results to more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, as there are no trees to absorb it. More heat gets trapped which causes temperatures to rise. This is how global warming is caused, and this affects the environment not just locally, nationally but also globally. A lack of vegetation to decompose, results to less humus and therefore the soil becomes infertile, this is a local concern because soil infertility means farmers cant farm no more, this then has an impact of food supply which then could result to an increase if death rate in Brazil. The water cycle is affected because of a lack of transpiration, which leads to less moisture in the atmosphere, and results to decrease in rainfall. As there are no roots to hold the soil together, it gets washed into rivers causing the river channel to become smaller and causes the rivers to flood. Also if rain is not absorbed by trees and plants excess water will flow into rivers causing them to flood. Flooding is a local concern as it affects the local land close to the Rainforest Rivers. Deforestation has short and long term affects on the economy. Deforestation provides jobs for the people of Brazil. This means the government can get tax from the people. Then the government spends the money it receives in taxes to improve conditions for the people, and tom pay of their debts. These are the short affects on the economy. As time goes on, and deforestation increases, jobs for the people of Brazil will decrease as there won?t be many trees left. Also Brazilians wont be able to farm their own food because the soil will become infertile. The government wont make a lot of money either, because of the lack of jobs they will receive less tax, which could result to poor living conditions again as the government wont have a lot of money to improve the conditions. The government could still be in debt, and they wont be able to pay it back because there will wont have any money coming in. they might even have to borrow more money from other countries and banks to support themselves. These are long-term affects on the economy. All these problems are local concerns as it concerns the people that live there. These are also national concerns because the affect the economy; and they are also global concerns because other countries have to lend more money to Brazil, and production affects loads of countries. In your opinion, what is the future of the rainforest? How could it be managed? In my opinion I think if the rainforest keeps on being destroyed the way it is being destroyed; then it is only around for a short period of time; and nothing will be left of it in the future. So our next generation will only hear stories about the rainforest and will never have the privilege to see the rainforest itself. However the rainforest can be sustained in many different ways, by using schemes like rubber tapping, non timber forest products, medicinal plants, ecotourism, sustainable logging and rainforest universities. [image] Here are just some of the very good schemes to sustain the rainforest: Rubber tapping:this is when parts of the rainforest will become reserved for the rubber tappers and their families to live. Rubber tappers collect latex from the rubber trees, as long as they are paid a decent price. The advantages of this scheme are that rubber tapping provides jobs and money for the local people of Brazil, this also provides latex for the world market, and the most important thing is that this activity does not destroy the rainforest. The disadvantage of this scheme is that it is very hard to convince people to take up rubber tapping. Non-timber forest products: this scheme works by local or tribal people harvest produce from the rainforest without destroying it. Things like fibres, fruits, seeds, flowers, nuts, and honey are some of the non-timber products that can be harvested from the rainforest. ?One palm tree produces 20kg fruits every year; in 1995 almost, 106,000 tonnes were produced at a value of $40 million in the US.? The advantages of this scheme are that this scheme does not destroy the rainforest. It involves the local people and provides money and food for them; it also provides tax for the country because work for the Brazilian people means there is money for the Brazilian government. This scheme provides and exotic range of foods for the world market as well. The best thing about this scheme is that when the fruit is cut of from the tree it always grows back. Medicinal plants: this works when scientists come form all over to collect plants to take back to their libratory, these plants could someday provide a cure for cancer or aids. (In 1987, researchers found a tree compound from the rainforest that was 100% effective against hiv-1 virus. Sadly, they were never able to find that tree again.)[Source: "The Value of Plant Collections and Collecting Society" by Robert Cook, Harvard University, in the July 1997 issue of Public Garden ? a publication of America Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta, in Kennet Square, PA, 610-925-2500] this activity does not destroy the rainforest and provides jobs and education for the local people, this activity also provides money for the government. To finish of my report I leave you with me conclusion. So therefore I conclude that no matter what scheme is used, there is no solid or perfect solution as every scheme has its advantages and disadvantages. However the rainforest plays an important role in all our lives, and soon it will all come to an end that will affect us all in some way. So to save the rainforest something must be done fast before, the rainforest becomes nothing but a simple myth.

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