For thousands of years humans have been deforesting small areas of woodland to build their own houses or grow crops to feed their families. However, in recent years the increase in the human population and development of industrial machinery has meant that much larger areas have been cleared. This is often by large companies who deforest to provide land for cattle, rice fields and growing crops for biofuels.
Deforestation destroys the habitats of the organisms that live there and through this kills individuals of many species. Scientists estimate that several hundred species of plant, animal and insect are lost each day partly as a result of deforestation. This means that deforestation is causing extinctions and dramatically reducing biodiversity.
Brazil needs to exploit the Amazon's resources to develop, so leaving the rainforest untouched is not an option. However, we still have a lot to learn about the rainforest and its species. For example, many medicines were found in plants that grow in the rainforest before they became commercially available.
Sustainable use of the rainforest is essential. Sustainable development will meet the needs of Brazil's population without compromising the needs of future generations.
Possible strategies that allow humans to lessen their negative impact on the ecosystem include: