Elon International Studies: Brazil



Meet the Crew

Life in a Favela

Adventures in the

Black, White, and in
Between: Diversity
in Brazil


Biodiversity in the Amazon

Samba School

Favela Tour Opens Students' Eyes

Quality of Life
in Brazil

A Country that Runs
on Alcohol

Racial Inequality in

Ancient Indian
Remedy, New
Western Craze

Maracana Stadium

The Amazon


A Dish With Many Tastes

The Music and Dance
of Brazil as seen in
the Samba Schools

without Language

Fixing the
Race Problem

If an Entire Species is
Destroyed Before its
Discovered, Did it
Ever Exist?

The Beauty of Buzios

Salvador's Afro-
Brazilian Culture

Health Care and
Concerns in Brazil


Cristo Redentor

GST 243 Homepage

2004 Archives

If an Entire Species is Destroyed Before its Discovered, Did it Ever Exist?

Vikash Sharma

        Over the past 500 years deforestation has become a growing problem in the rain forests of Brazil . However, this problem is a very foreign idea when presented to most citizens of the United States .  In our studies, leading through high school, we are offered very minimal knowledge pertaining to this issue.  This lack of education coupled alongside inadequate coverage by the media serves to shield the general public from this major problem in Brazil ; a major problem that could have global repercussions if not handled properly.  However, I am not arguing that there are not Brazilian and foreign entities that are working to combat this problem.  I am merely saying that a lack of credible knowledge pertaining to the region serves to greatly amplify the problem of ignorance, which in turn allows for the problem to continue longer.

        During my stay in Brazil I was exposed to many different aspects of Brazilian life.  However, I can say that the time I spent in the Amazon surpasses all others.  The mystique of the Amazon lives up to all of its hype.  This is truly one of the world's most serene environments.  How can one deny the beauty of nature in its primitive untouched form, the bright green colors of vegetation that engulf you, the wildlife and the soothing sounds. However, many are arguing that tourism, research and logging are all contributing to disturbing the serene untouched landscape of the Amazon.  From my limited personal experience in the Amazon, I can now say that I understand why many are worried about the commercialization and destruction of the rain forest.  The rain forest is a highly sought after piece of real estate by numerous entities, each of which knowingly or unknowingly is raping one of the world's most valuable assets.

        To put things into perspective approximately 5.4 million acres of Brazil 's rain forests are lost annually. This problem has affected vegetation, wild life and the indigenous peoples of the area as well.  An astonishing 137 different species of wild life are lost each day due to the destruction of the rain forest; this accumulates to nearly 50,000 species lost annually.  The population of the indigenous people of the rain forest has drastically dropped an estimated eight million persons in the last 500 years. You can truly understand the enormity of this dilemma when flying into the city of Manaus .  What was once thick and dense rainforest is now patched with bare spots.  These fields are now primarily being used for cattle pastures, colonization, agriculture and logging.  When Brazil 's deforestation problem is presented on a global scale the magnitude of the problem is made even more evident.   Brazil destroys the most tropical moist forest land of all countries.  They destroy about 38,000 square kilometers of rain forest more than Indonesia , who claims the second largest rate of rain forest destruction.  This problem is occurring even though there are strict laws prohibiting logging in many areas.  Entities are illegally destroying the rain forest.  However, this is a problem that Brazil 's environmental enforcement agency has been cracking down on.  They recently made a very large seizure of illegally harvested timber from the rain forest that was the equivalent of 10,000 acres of timber.

        The problem of the deforestation has many other indirect effects upon the environment. With The problem of the deforestation has many other indirect effects upon the environment.  With logging comes the building of access roads.  Extensive studies conducted by the Environmental Defense Fund are showing that areas where logging roads are present are an eight times more inclined to settlement and clear cutting.  These access roads are also acting as transportation highways for poachers.  These poachers kill large amounts of “bush meat” and distribute it amongst the poorer populations at discounted prices.  This is causing severe depletion of certain wild life in specific areas of the rain forest, if allowed to progress this could lead to localized extinction.

        There needs to be a great deal of reformation amongst the established laws as well as the degree to which they are being enforced.  This is so because Brazil has been able to pass numerous environmental laws although their ability to enforce these laws has fallen short.  With a limited budget and pressure from elitists, enforcing these environmental laws has been next to none.  However, recently an environmental police academy has been opened deep in heart of the forest (a four hour boat ride from Manaus down the Rio Negro ).  They will train officers here to protect the forest and enforce these environmental laws in hopes of stopping the increasing rate of deforestation.  Also, increased publicity and education regarding the issue is necessary to shed light on the issue globally.  With aid and assistance from the global community Brazil will be better able to safeguard one of the world's most spectacular natural wonders.