THE Amazon rainforest, otherwise known as the “lungs of the planet”, is the world’s largest tropical rainforest, famed for its biodiversity and animal life.
Covering an enormous 1.7 billion acres and spanning nine South American nations, the UK and Ireland would fit into the area 17 times.
The Amazon rainforest is the world’s largest tropical rainforest, famed for its biodiversity and animal life[/caption]
Thousands of rivers crisscross through the forest which covers much of northwestern Brazil and extends into Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Guyana.
The river system is the forest’s lifeline and supplies water to the abundance of animal and bird life which depend on it.
A thick canopy of trees sits above the forest floor, with only a small sliver of light actually making its way through.
Similarly, the tree canopy is so tightly blanketed together that it can take ten minutes for rain to reach the ground below.
Life in the Amazon basis is tropical, hot, humid and wet.
‘LUNGS OF THE PLANET’
Most estimates put the rainforest to be at least 55 million years old, likely forming during the Eocene era.
The first human inhabitants settled in the Amazon region at least 11,200 years ago.
The forest is thought to provide 20 per cent of the world’s oxygen.
The rich vegetation absorbs millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide each year and releases oxygen back in.
Importantly, the rainforest plays a critical role in regulating the Earth’s climate.
Plants in the region are estimated to provide key ingredients for 25 per cent of all western pharmaceuticals.
Many believe that the cure of cancer may be found in the Amazon rainforest.
The Amazon rainforest is deemed to be the most biologically diverse place on Earth.
One in ten known species in the world lives in the Amazon rainforest which is home to more than three million different plant and animal species.
The thriving Amazon basis is one of Earth’s last refuges for jaguars, harpy eagles, and pink river dolphins.
It’s also home to sloths, black spider monkeys, and poison dart frogs.
The forest contains one in 10 known species on Earth, 40,000 plant species, 3,000 freshwater fish species, and more than 370 types of reptiles.
More than 2,000 new species of plants and vertebrates have been described since 1999.
The rainforest is also home to more than a thousand different species of birds.
It’s also home to some exotic and dangerous creatures including electric eels, flesh eating piranhas, poison dart frogs and venomous snakes.
The Pirarucu fish, a menacing meat-eating predator which eats other fish, can grow to nearly 3m long and is armed with teeth on the roof of its mouth and on its tongue.
The colourful toucan and the infamous anaconda are other animals synonymous with the forest.
Around 400-500 indigenous tribes call the Amazon rainforest home, some of which have never had contact with the outside world.
The diversity of tribes in the region speak up to 170 different languages, all with unique customs and traditions.
The indigenous Mura tribe have lived on the native land for thousands of years, using traditional hunting and gathering methods.
AMAZON ON FIRE
This year alone, there have been 72,843 fires in Brazil, with more than half in the Amazon region.
In August there were a record number of fires.
Most experts agree that the fires have been deliberately set by farmers illegally deforesting land for cattle ranching.
Logging and cattle ranching are industries that rely on deforestation to exist and have been supported by President Bolsonaro since he came to power this year.
The rainforest generates 20 per cent of all the oxygen we breathe, and contains 10 per cent of the world’s biodiversity[/caption]
DEFORESTATION & LAND LOST
Increased human settlement and agricultural and farming development have led to vast swathes of deforestation.
Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon rose more than 88 per cent in June 2019 compared with the same month in 2018.
In 2018, estimates put about 17 per cent of the Amazon rainforest as having been already destroyed.
Farmers repeatedly clear land to replant crops as soil fertility is often only short lived.
Deforested land is mainly used for livestock pasture.
An aerial view of logs illegally cut from Amazon rainforest are seen in sawmills[/caption]
Increased human settlement and agricultural and farming development have led to vast swathes of deforestation[/caption]
Most estimates put the rainforest to be at least 55 million years old[/caption]
Thousands of rivers crisscross through the forest[/caption]
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