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In this report I will examine a variety of sources and consider important issues in favour of exploiting the Amazon Rainforest.

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Population

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Brazil has an extremely large population (157, 872,000 1996 estimate), with a population density of about 48 people for every square mile. 78% of these live in urban areas, causing considerable overpopulation.

The large amount of land that tropical rainforests occupy means there is less land for humans. By clearing some of the rainforest, pressure is taken of overcrowded cities by providing new settlements and land that can be used for farming.

The government has cleared large areas or rainforests to create space for the building of new towns; encouraging people to move into these newly cleared spaces, and to farm for themselves (subsistence farming), in an effort to relieve pressure on urban areas and lessen the number of people living in Favelas.

The pressure of an ever-increasing population also means that jobs are precious and the huge number of jobs that deforestation provides can outweigh the damage to the environment. The income that such jobs provide helps create better housing and a more nutritional diet for Brazilians.

Agriculture

Land is also cleared for agricultural purposes, such as for grazing animals and growing crops but also for commercial logging purposes where the wood is sold as timber or pulp.

Land is needed for the grazing of cattle and the growth of crops, not only for economy but to sustain the way of life for many rural farmers living in Brazil. Grasses will eventually grow in these areas, on which cattle and sheep can feed. This way of utilising the land has stemmed mainly from the timber industry.

Slash and burn agriculture is the procedure used by natives that involves cutting down trees in an area around a village and then burning them, making the land more fertile. The land can then be useful for growing crops, although it is worth noting that the land becomes infertile after a short period of time.

Minerals and Medicines

The rainforest in Brazil also offer man many types of minerals and contain much of the countries wealth: Bauxite, Iron Ore (a product that leading car manufacturers cannot do without), copper and other natural resources are all found in the ground under the rainforests and are easily mined.

There are plenty of minerals in the Amazon that could be extracted and exported to benefit Brazil’s economy, and the people of Brazil. This is vital because Brazil needs to develop its resources to increase its GNP.

The rainforest’s rich biodiversity is also a source of many plants that are used for medicinal purposes. Over 40% of medicines are derived from plants and animals, many of which are native to rainforests. This is of worldwide importance as medicines are vital in improving healthcare in all countries. For example, experimental drugs for AIDS and cancer have been found in the rainforest that can be of great importance in curing deadly diseases.

Debts and Economy

Many foreign loans and multinational investments were taken out by Brazil during the “Brazilian Miracle” of the 1960’s and ’70’s in which large- scale projects made Brazil into a modern industrial nation. This “miracle” left Brazil with enormous debts (around $159 billion).

Although the process created thousands of jobs, the gap between the poor and the rich continued to grow. Despite the fact that Brazil now has a trade surplus, the interest payments on the loans are forever increasing, and there is no way that Brazil can reduce its debt – unless the rainforest is developed.

In order to pay of such debts the logging industries contribute money made from selling pulp and valuable hardwoods such as mahogany.

“Not to exploit and populate an area is a luxury that people in Brazil cannot afford”.

Cocoa production has also been a large contributor to improving Brazil’s economy and financial status, as the ability to transport products all over the world has become a routine process. The demand for chocolate and other cocoa products in the modern world have increased Brazil’s financial prospects greatly over the last decade.

An unlimited water supply and ideal river conditions have led to the development of many hydro- electric power (HEP) stations. Over 125 new HEP dams are built, and are some of the largest hydro- electric schemes in the world.

In Brazil in the 1960’s the government wanted to develop the Amazon for cattle ranching, as during the time world beef prices were high and would bring a lot of revenue to the country. To encourage investment in the Amazon tax exemptions were given to companies investing in agriculture and livestock. The growth of cattle ranching in the Amazon due to the demand for beef particularly in fast food restaurants requires more land. This would lead to a reduction in the price of beef, whilst the number of cattle is increased. The chains of restaurants selling cheap beef in hamburgers will thus become ever popular. This will lead to greater income revenues, vital in paying of increasing international debts.

Highways and rail links will provide transportation for moving produce and crops as well as transport for the locals. The hydro- electricity provides light and energy into the houses in the Amazon, improving the Quality of Life drastically for Brazilian citizens.

Locating new business is again essential in improving Brazil’s financial stature. Development into the Amazon will help provide jobs and adequate shelter for the local people.

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Kylie Garcia

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