Rainforest Strategy: The Planets Most Successful Business Model
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Rainforests are also the source of many useful products upon which local communities depend. While rainforests are critically important to humanity, they are rapidly being destroyed by human activities.
The biggest cause of deforestation is conversion of forest land for agriculture. In the past subsistence agriculture was the primary driver of rainforest conversion, but today industrial agriculture — especially monoculture and livestock production — is the dominant driver of rainforest loss worldwide. Logging is the biggest cause of forest degradation and usually proceeds deforestation for agriculture. The rainforest section of Mongabay is divided into ten "chapters" the original text for the site was a book, but has since been adapted for the web , with add-on content in the form of special focal sections e.
There is also a version of the site geared toward younger readers at kids. Each rainforest is unique, but there are certain features common to all tropical rainforests. Location: rainforests lie in the tropics. Rainfall: rainforests receive at least 80 inches cm of rain per year. Canopy: rainforests have a canopy, which is the layer of branches and leaves formed by closely spaced rainforest trees some 30 meters feet off the ground.
A large proportion of the plants and animals in the rainforest live in the canopy.
Scientists estimate that about half of Earth's terrestrial species live in rainforests. Ecosystem services: rainforests provide a critical ecosystem services at local, regional, and global scales, including producing oxygen tropical forests are responsible for percent of the world's oxygen turnover and storing carbon tropical forests store an estimated - billion tons of carbon through photosynthesis; influencing precipitation patterns and weather ; moderating flood and drought cycles ; and facilitating nutrient cycling ; among others.
Just over half the world's rainforests lie in the Neotropical realm, roughly a quarter are in Africa, and a fifth in Asia. Dozens of countries have tropical forests. Rainforests are characterized by a unique vegetative structure consisting of several vertical layers including the overstory, canopy, understory, shrub layer, and ground level.
The canopy refers to the dense ceiling of leaves and tree branches formed by closely spaced forest trees. The upper canopy is feet above the forest floor, penetrated by scattered emergent trees, feet or higher, that make up the level known as the overstory. Below the canopy ceiling are multiple leaf and branch levels known collectively as the understory.
The lowest part of the understory, feet 1. Tropical rainforests support the greatest diversity of living organisms on Earth. There are several reasons why rainforests are so diverse. Some important factors are: Climate: because rainforests are located in tropical regions, they receive a lot of sunlight. The sunlight is converted to energy by plants through the process of photosynthesis.
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Since there is a lot of sunlight, there is a lot of energy in the rainforest. This energy is stored in plant vegetation, which is eaten by animals. The abundance of energy supports an abundance of plant and animal species. Canopy: the canopy structure of the rainforest provides an abundance of places for plants to grow and animals to live. The canopy offers sources of food, shelter, and hiding places, providing for interaction between different species. For example, there are plants in the canopy called bromeliads that store water in their leaves.
Frogs and other animals use these pockets of water for hunting and laying their eggs. Competition: while there is lots of energy in the rainforest system, life is not easy for most species that inhabit the biome. In fact, the rainforest is an intensively competitive place, with species developing incredible strategies and innovations to survive, encouraging specialization.
While species everywhere are known for utilizing symbiotic relationships with other species to survive, the biological phenomenon is particularly abundant in rainforests. In the rainforest most plant and animal life is not found on the forest floor, but in the leafy world known as the canopy. The canopy, which may be over feet 30 m above the ground, is made up of the overlapping branches and leaves of rainforest trees. Scientists estimate that more than half of life in the rainforest is found in the trees, making this the richest habitat for plant and animal life.
The conditions of the canopy are markedly different from the conditions of the forest floor. During the day, the canopy is drier and hotter than other parts of the forest, and the plants and animals that live there have adapted accordingly. For example, because the amount of leaves in the canopy can make it difficult to see more than a few feet, many canopy animals rely on loud calls or lyrical songs for communication.
Gaps between trees mean that some canopy animals fly, glide, or jump to move about in the treetops. Meanwhile plants have evolved water-retention mechanisms like waxy leaves. Scientists have long been interested in studying the canopy, but the height of trees made research difficult until recently. Today the canopy is commonly accessed using climbing gear, rope bridges, ladders, and towers. Researchers are even using model airplanes outfitted with special sensors — conservation drones — to study the canopy. The rainforest floor is often dark and humid due to constant shade from the leaves of canopy trees.
The canopy not only blocks out sunlight, but dampens wind and rain, and limits shrub growth. Despite its constant shade, the ground floor of the rainforest is the site for important interactions and complex relationships.
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The forest floor is one of the principal sites of decomposition, a process paramount for the continuance of the forest as a whole. It provides support for trees responsible for the formation of the canopy and is also home to some of the rainforest's best-known species, including gorillas, tigers, tapirs, and elephants, among others.
Tropical rainforests support some of the largest rivers in the world, like the Amazon, Mekong, Negro, Orinoco, and Congo. These mega-rivers are fed by countless smaller tributaries, streams, and creeks. For example, the Amazon alone has some 1, tributaries, 17 of which are over 1, miles long. Although large tropical rivers are fairly uniform in appearance and water composition, their tributaries vary greatly. Rainforest waters are home to a wealth of wildlife that is nearly as diverse as the biota on land. For example, more than 5, species of fish have been identified in the Amazon Basin alone.
But like rainforests, tropical ecosystems are also threatened. Dams, deforestation, channelization and dredging, pollution, mining, and overfishing are chief dangers. Tropical rainforests have long been home to tribal peoples who rely on their surroundings for food, shelter, and medicines. Today very few forest people live in traditional ways; most have been displaced by outside settlers, have been forced to give up their lifestyles by governments, or have chosen to adopt outside customs. Of the remaining forest people, the Amazon supports the largest number of indigenous people living in traditional ways, although these people, too, have been impacted by the modern world.
Nonetheless, indigenous peoples' knowledge of medicinal plants remains unmatched and they have a great understanding of the ecology of the Amazon rainforest. In Africa there are native forest dwellers sometimes known as pygmies. The tallest of these people, also called the Mbuti, rarely exceed 5 feet in height. Their small size enables them to move about the forest more efficiently than taller people. There are few forest peoples in Asia living in fully traditional ways. The last nomadic people in Borneo are thought to have settled in the late 's.
New Guinea and the Andaman Islands are generally viewed as the last frontiers for forest people in Asia and the Pacific. Every year an area of rainforest the size of New Jersey is cut down and destroyed, mostly the result of human activities. We are cutting down rainforests for many reasons, including:. In July, the deforestation rate was an area the size of Manhattan every day, a Greater London every three weeks. This month, fires are incinerating the Amazon at a record rate , almost certainly part of a scorched-earth strategy to clear territory.
Why is this happening now? Because of a change in power. A predatory form of politics called Bolsonarism has assumed nearly total, and totalitarian, power in Brazil. This is why, for the first time since Brazil became a democracy again, it effectively has a minister against the environment. For more than 30 years no environment minister has enjoyed the same autonomy as Ricardo Salles. But today, this has reached a new level. They are not just in the government, they are the government.
These lands, most of which lie in the Amazon forest, include the public lands to which indigenous peoples have the constitutional right to use, the public lands settled by ribeirinhos people who have for over a century made their living by fishing, tapping rubber, and sustainably gathering Brazil nuts and other forest products , and the collective-use lands of quilombolas descendants of rebel slaves who won their right to territories occupied by their ancestors.
Infighting is constant in the government, in part because the Bolsonaro administration employs the strategy of simulating its own opposition so it can occupy every possible space. A few somewhat dissonant voices have already been deleted from the government. Bolsonarism goes well beyond the man after whom it is named.
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At some point, it might even do without Bolsonaro. And Bolsonarism, it bears repeating, is not a threat just to Brazil but to our planet , because it destroys the forest that is strategically vital to controlling global heating. For us to be capable of resisting, we must become the forest — and resist like the forest, the forest that knows it carries ruins within itself, that carries within itself both what it is and what it no longer is.
We must lend shape to this political, affective feeling in order to lend meaning to our actions.
Rainforest Strategy: The Planet's Most Successful Business Model
This means shifting a few tectonic plates in our own thinking. We have to decolonise ourselves. The fact that the Amazon is still regarded as something far away, on the periphery of our vision, shows just how stupid white western culture is. It is a stupidity that moulds and shapes the political and economic elites of the world, and likewise of Brazil.
Believing the Amazon is far away and on the periphery, when the only chance of controlling global heating is to keep the forest alive, reflects ignorance of continental proportions. The forest is at the very core of all we have. This is the real home of humanity. The fact that many of us feel far away from it only shows how much our eyes have been contaminated, formatted and distorted. In the big cities of Brazil and the rest of the world, we are distanced from the deaths in which our small daily acts are accomplices.