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Geography

Human uses of rainforests

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Humans intervene in tropical rainforests in order to bring real or imagined benefits to themselves or the local population.

Case study: human intervention in the Amazon

The short-term benefits of clearing [clearing: Removing or cutting down. ] rainforest areas include:

  • land for agriculture, houses and roads
  • jobs for local workers in road building, logging, agriculture, mining and construction
  • the generation of income (often in valuable foreign currency) for the LEDC [LEDC: A Less Economically Developed Country (LEDC) has low levels of development, based on economic indicators, such as gross domestic product (the country's income). ] when wood, minerals, and other resources are sold
  • scientific investigation into rainforest plants may provide new food sources and medicines
A village in a cleared area of rainforest

A village in a cleared area of rainforest

These benefits, however, come at a cost. Clearing rainforest threatens the survival of many plant and animal species and can lead to serious environmental degradation. Widespread deforestationdeforestation: the process of cutting down a large number of trees in a forest and not replacing them damages the whole biosphere (the balance of living and non-living things) with serious long-term consequences.

The case study of human intervention in the Amazon looks at some of the issues around rainforest development.

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