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Deforestation -What is the Main Culprit

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?Tropical forests cover only 7-13% of the earth?s land surface according to a Greenpeace case study written in 2008. The Amazon is the world?s largest tropical forest and deforestation is a concern for its inhabitants and the rest of the world. The misconception lies in what the majority of uninformed individuals view as the leading cause for this devastation. Illegal logging is commonly cited as the reason for this debilitating issue. Research shows that clearing land for soy farming and cattle grazing actually accounts for more than 80-90 % of deforestation.

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A quote from Dr. Pat Moore, founding member of Greenpeace, “If you want to save tropical rainforests, boycott tropical fruit and vegetables, and buy tropical woods instead, because than people will grow trees instead.” He suggests we put a value on the trees by purchasing products made from them thus creating a need to care for the forest. The good news is with the new systems in place like the Lacey Act developed by the Department of Agriculture, illegal logs will not enter the US. Sustainable forests will grow and we can make trees a valuable commodity so that land can be set aside for their growth not cleared for the above mentioned farming and cattle grazing.

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Brazil has become a major if not the biggest exporter of beef which results in cattle grazing and clearing of precious forest space. Soy bean demand has increased at an alarming rate as well which accounts for the agricultural cash cropping and devastation of rich soil and minerals. We choose to become indignant about the destruction of our forests but if we really want to look at the source we can blame the demand we all put on beef, soybeans, tropical fruits and tropical vegetables. China and Russia alone have a huge demand for cattle that is increasing at an alarming rate which Brazil attempts to fill. The cattle industry has a lot more sophisticated resources to keep this out of the media but the numbers don?t lie.

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So the next time you look at a wood deck or floor made from tropical lumber remember that it can actually be helping to keep the forest intact otherwise the land would be slowly being used for other money making resources. Tropical hardwoods have gotten a bad rap but with the education and help of everyone, it can actually be harvested and sustained for future use for us and the indigenous people it supports.

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