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The global vegetation system that I am going to be using is the tropical rain forest. Tropical rain forests (TRF) are usually found along or near the equator. These are equatorial climates and inn these climates there are no seasons. The TRF has a very large range of species. There are a lot of tropical hardwoods here, such as mahogany, Oak, Ipe and many more. The direct use for people is to burn the wood that they cut down from the tropical rainforests. An indirect use would be to sell the wood on.

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There are three scales of how humans affect the TRF, small scale is shifting cultivation, on a medium scale there would be plantations and on a large scale the is deforestation. Equally there are challenges caused as a consequence of how we use it. There a number of environmental challenges that humans face. Firstly the climate here, it is hot wet and humid. These conditions make it hard for humans to live there. There can also be disease here, and pests such as spiders, snakes etc.

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These become a physical challenge for people to over come. The surface of the TRF can become very swampy in places, this means that it can be very hard for people to move around in the TRF. The density of the TRF is immense, it is incredible difficult for people to get into and to move about in there. Shifting cultivation has opportunities for local people. These local people will use the slash/burn method for making a clearing, here they will grow some crops (usually yams).

They have hunters/gatherers who will go out and get food from the area surrounding the clearing they have made. They will live in this clearing for around 4 years, by this time the nutrients start to become depleted, this is one of the challenges that they face. Now they have to move several kilometres away and make sure that they are not in the area where they sent their hunters/gatherers. The clearing that they left will start to grow back. These people have now become part of the eco system and are challenging to become the top carnivores.

The population has started to explode in these places and has significantly increased. This practise how now become less viable and there is now less opportunities for the clearings to re grow and therefore there is going to be more and more clearings made in the TRF and they wont be getting the chance to grow back. This is one of the big challenges that they will now face. Plantations are on a medium to large scale of how humans will affect the TRF. Plantations are set up by colonies (MEDC’s), and multi national companies.

They aim to grow the same crop over large areas of land that would have naturally grown there any way such as tea, coffee, rubber etc. A very large area has got to be cleared so that the plantations can operate. The opportunities for a plantation are huge. They can use the plantation all year round due to the climate being ideal (hot, wet, humid) and there being no seasons. They are able to exploit the forest and use it economically by selling off the crops that they produce. And as they produce a large amount they will make big profits.

One big challenge that plantations face is the fact that the diversity of species has been replaced and is now a mono culture. Where there was once area of many species, they are now dominated by single crops on large areas of land. Pests and disease in a TRF are controlled, but in a plantation all the plants are the same so if a disease gets in there all the plants are going to be infected. Also the nutrient cycle is going to be affected by plantations. Growing the same crop over and over again uses the same nutrients and we get soil depletion.

Plantations are a manipulation of the eco system. Deforestation has a phenomenal affect on the TFF. The tropical hardwoods have a big demand around the world and this is where they get them. They generate good income for the people who are selling them. The demand for these woods leads to a devastating affect on the TRF. The diversity of species inside the TRF is phenomenal, and this causes a big problem. In 1sqkm there may only be one mahogany tree, if this is the tree that is needed the people are not able to just go and get that one.

The forest is so dense they have to pull down all the trees in that area to get to that one. This is mass clearance and has a devastating affect on the TRF. When a tree is chopped down it is going to wipe out a lot of trees in the process. As an affect of this deforestation there is going to be soil erosion. When the trees get pulled down the soil is left exposed to the elements. Afforestation is a process, which should take place after deforestation happens. This is where trees are re planted.

To conclude what I have written, there is always going to be management opportunities in a tropical rain forest whether it is on a small scale or on a large scale. The affects that these opportunities have on the tropical rainforest varies. On one hand the affects can be minor as in the local moving land in shifting cultivation due to soil depletion. But the affects can also be devastating, as in deforestation where there is mass clearance and an area of the tropical rain forest is destroyed. So there are opportunities but they can come at a big cost to the environment.

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Kylie Garcia

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