Human activity is believed to be the main cause of rain forest destruction around the world. The natural resources of rain forests have been used for commercial, and to a lesser extent personal, use with little thought of damage it does to the rain forest ecosystem. As a result permanent damage is being done to these areas. Human activities endangering the survival of rain forests include logging, poaching, agriculture and subsistence.
Logging is the main type of deforestation. Commercial logging companies makes millions of dollars every year from cutting down large trees in rain forests. The logs are imported to countries to use for things like coffins and furniture. The cutting down of logs is damaging when coupled with the destructive practice. Only a few logs are cut down while the rest of the ecosystem is damaged. Heavy machinery and road building crushes soil, reducing the chances of the forest regenerating itself. Cutting down a tree also damages the vines, epiphytes and animals living on the tree. Careless human behavior of removing a tree also damages other trees in the area.
A significant amount of rain forest area has been damaged by agricultural practices. Large areas of a rain forest are completely cleared so the land can be used for cattle grazing, food crops and tree plantations. The majority of produce is exported to rich industrialized countries while the local population goes without food. Because of deforestation the soil doesn't stay fertile for longer than a few years. Farmers are forced to destroy more rain forest areas and move on to new soil for their crops.
Another type of human activity damaging the rain forest is subsistence activities caused by local settlers. Many people who are too poor to own their own land settle along roads created by logging companies. They use the slash-and-burn technique: They clear the land of shrubbery and burn the material. They then plant crops for their own use and stay there until the soil becomes unfertile. Once that's happened they move on to the next area. It can take between 20 and 100 years for the abandoned area to regenerate itself. However, some people go back to the land after less than 10 years, which damages the soil long-term.
Hunting and Poaching
The overhunting and poaching of animals can cause irreversible damage to the rain forest's ecosystem. When one species of animal becomes extinct, many other species cannot survive without it. Despite poaching in African rain forests being illegal, millions of animals are killed every year for their meat. In some areas of the world, animals have become endangered due to too much hunting by humans. For example, in Asia, tigers, orangutans and Sumatran elephants are endangered. As the price for these animals rises on the black market, humans are aggressively hunting them.
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