Extinction of rainforest species
Other Names: Reduction of species diversity of rainforests
Nature: Since the end of the 1970s, clearance of areas of tropical rainforest has slowed greatly and fewer trees are being cut in rainforests. However, the rate of species extinction is still extremely high as remote sanctuaries are disrupted and the legacy of past clearance matures.
Incidence: A 1993 NASA study claimed that three times as many animals and plant species are being killed or pushed near extinction in the Amazon rainforest as had already been reported. 40% of Hawaii's native bird species have become extinct and loss of remaining rainforest habitat threatens three-quarters of those that remain. Predation by introduced species, such as rats and mongooses, are another source of destruction. The extinction of birds species on Hawaii is a particular loss because they are a textbook example of evolution: the island's 47 species of honeycreeper all evolved from a single ancestor.
Claim: Industrialized governments are not concerned with the loss of species, but with the fact that shrinking forests mean shrinking tropical wood exports which in turn mean declining developing economies which in turn mean shrinking markets for fist world exports. The United States, for example, exports more to tropical forested countries than it does to the whole of Europe, East and West. It has also realised that its giant pharmaceutical industries depend heavily on materials emanating from the tropical forest. It is necessary to observe closely their every action, examine the implications of those actions, and call the governments to account when their deeds betray their words.
Problem Type: D: Detailed problems
Date of last update 23.01.2000 – 00:00 CET