December 9th, 2009
10:03 PM ET

Video: Planet in Peril, deforestation in the Rainforest

Anderson Cooper | BIO
AC360° Anchor

The Amazon rainforest is the largest in the world and covers nearly 70 percent of Brazil. The rainforest produces about 20 percent of the Earth's oxygen and plays a big role in controlling the climate of the entire planet. The Amazon also is home to more species of plants and animals than any other ecosystem on Earth, 30 percent of the world's total.

About one-fifth of the Amazon has disappeared in the past three decades. The causes are many: Logging, both legal and illegal; construction of homes and roads; and agri-business clearing land to plant crops or graze cattle.

The Brazilian government says the situation is getting better and that federal police are cracking down on illegal logging, in particular. But critics say there aren't enough agents on the ground and that more land needs to be put under federal protection.

soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Isabel Siaba (Brazil)

    I agree with the critics that they say there are not enough agents on the ground and that more land needs to be put under federal protection.

    My cousin is the director of the IBAMA (Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources) and there is enough support. The projects are made, but there is no incentive for them to be realized.

    Due to the difficulty of monitoring and little infrastructure in most of the region, some residents are forced to contribute to the sale of illegal timber because they have no other means of income or because they feel threatened by the loggers. Even some Indians often work in illegal activity logging.

    In addition to affecting the biodiversity (the Amazon has more than 30% of the world's biodiversity), deforestation in the Amazon affects, the lives of local people that without the huge resources of the largest freshwater basin in the world find themselves without power to ensure their survival, becoming dependent on government assistance and non-governmental organizations, which are not sufficient.

    'm really enjoying to review Planet In Peril, especially this part of Amazonia. This was something I had asked! Thanks!

    December 9, 2009 at 12:53 pm |
  2. Tim Gibson

    When companies like McDonalds import much of their "beef" from south america, under the idea of a shortage here stateside, who do we blame for this. McDonalds or a farmer making a living? Or perhaps lax trade agreements.

    December 9, 2009 at 12:14 pm |