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Causes of Rainforest Destruction
A change in rainforests as time goes by
Rainforest Changes
Causes of Rainforest Destruction
Why does this matter to us?
Plant Adaptations
Rainforest Plants
Extinct Plants
Rainforest Animals
Extinct Animals
How can you help?
Works Cited



Commercial logging companies cut down mature trees that have been selected for their timber. The timber trade defends itself by saying that their method of cutting down trees ensures that the forest grows again naturally and in time. That is untrue most the time because of the nature of the rainforests and of logging practices. Trees are felled and soil is compacted by heavy machinery while decreasing the forest's chance for regeneration. Removing a felled tree from the forest causes even further destruction, especially when it is carried out carelessly. Most of the rainforest timber on the international market is exported to rich countries. The timber is used in the construction of doors, window frames, crates, coffins, furniture, plywood sheets, chopsticks, household utensils and other items.

Agriculture - Shifted Cultivators


Shifted cultivators is the term used for people who have moved to the rainforest areas and have established small-scale farming operations. Shifted cultivators are currently being blamed for 60% of tropical forest loss. The reason these people are called shifted cultivators is because most of them have been shifted off their own land by the government and moved into the rainforests areas. Large-scale agriculture, logging, hydroelectric dams, mining, and industrial development are all responsible for the dispossession of poor farmers. The soil does not remain fertile for long. They are forced to move on, to shift again, going further into the rainforest and destroying more and more of it. The further the shifted cultivators go, the more destruction is caused.


Agriculture - Cash Crops and Cattle Ranching


Undisturbed and logged rainforest areas are being totally cleared to provide land for food crops, tree plantations or for grazing cattle. Due to the delicate nature of rainforest soil and the destructive nature of present day agricultural practices, the productivity of cash crops grown on rainforest soils declines rapidly after a few years. In many cases, the cattle damage the land to such an extent that they have to move on while destroying more and more rainforests.


Fuel wood


1.5 billion of the 2 billion people worldwide that rely on fuel wood for cooking and heating are over cutting forests which causes more destruction.


Large Dams


Hundreds of thousands of hectares of forests have been destroyed by the building of hydro-electric dams. New dams had to be built or otherwise these countries would suffer an energy crisis. The irrigation and industrial projects powered by dams lead to further environmental damage which leads to salination of soils and industry leads to pollution. Downstream ecosystems are damaged by dams which trap silt, holding back valuable nutrients. Reduced silt leads to coastal erosion.


Mining & Industry


Mining and industrial development lead to direct forest loss due to the clearing of land to establish projects which also cause severe water, air and land pollution.


Colonization Schemes


Governments and international aid agencies encouraged schemes of moving into the rainforests which cause the destruction of rainforests.




The creation of national parks has damaged some of the rainforest areas. These parks exploit the environment for profit instead of preserving the forests.


The search for oil has lead to a major threat to rainforests. One might be wondering how. Many products that we use in our daily lives are manufactured from petroleum such as most plastic. Petroleum provides 40% of the energy produced and used in the United States. There is a big increase in the amount of carbon in the air due to the destruction of trees.


 Rainforest Destruction