The Amazon Rainforest: The World’s Forest
Of course, the Amazon Rainforest is mainly located in Brazil—although parts of it overlap in the territory of other countries. However, it is safe to say that the Amazon Rainforest is the world’s forest, which means to say more than these countries it also belongs to the world. Consider the fact that a number of studies are trying to prove that the status and condition of the Amazon Rainforest actually affects the environmental and general condition of the world. This clearly means that the Amazon Rainforest plays a vital part in the world, being the largest rainforest on the planet—a fact that will probably stay the same until the end of time, even though the forest is said to be in danger of being reduced due to certain hazards.
As everyone knows, the Amazon Rainforest is the world’s largest rainforest. But how big is it exactly? Any travel guide can tell you: the rainforest is around 1.4 billion acres, out the 1.7 billion acres that comprise the Amazon Basin in South America. Brazil holds majority of the rainforest, but eight other nations also contain this overwhelming forest, namely French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana, Bolivia, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Second to Brazil with around 60 percent of the rainforest, Peru contains the second majority with 13 percent. The rest holds minor amounts of the more than one billion acres of forest. If these statistics do not mean anything to you, consider that the whole area of the Amazon Rainforest is actually more than half of the remaining rainforest in the world. This means that the other one billion acres worth of rainforest are already scattered in the other continents (since most of the countries that hold the rainforest are South American countries). If you also consider that the forest of the world comprise 30 percent of the land area of the world, this means that more than 15 percent of the world’s land area is actually the Amazon Rainforest. Again, visualizing this gives you a glimpse of how important the Amazon Rainforest is. Consider the flora and fauna that live on this area. Consider the benefits brought about by forests, and how the Amazon Rainforest contributes to this.
However, it is also important to consider the danger and risks that lie ahead for the Amazon Rainforest. Perhaps because of massive developments in the area, and perhaps also because of tourism, the World Wildlife Foundation or the WWF has said that there is a possibility that more than 50 percent of the Amazon Rainforest may be gone by 2030. This, without any question, is a considerably large area of forest, and this will certainly affect the world in a very significant way. An even more recent report has predicted that around 80 percent of the Amazon Rainforest will be destroyed due to the effects of global warming. These may seem to be coming to fruition, in the light of recent news. For instance, according to reports, more than 30,000 sq mi of the Amazon Rainforest was destroyed in 2008—a truly atrocious news indeed, proving that if people do not change their ways, the destruction of the forest is inevitable.
Without a doubt, the forests of the world are important in the maintenance of the ecosystem. Many species rely on these forest for their homes and their food—their entire lives and existences. And without the proper balance of the ecosystem, the whole world—not just South America—will be affected. This is why, more than a travel destination, the Amazon Rainforest is an important part of the world, a forest that can truly be called the world’s forest, perhaps even its most important natural wonder.
History and people
The Amazon Rainforest itself has been in existence for around 55 million years. The formation of the area was due to the shifting of the planes of the world, resulting to the formation of various natural structures. Some sources say that the area where the Amazon Rainforest sits today was formed several million years ago, when the Amazon River flowed in a different direction. However, the breaking of the tectonic plates created a shift on the South America plate, creating the Andes mountain range. In any case, the Amazon Rainforest transformed into different types of forests over the years, due to the changes in the atmosphere and the shifting of the continents itself. In any case, the rainforest simply expanded over time until it became the behemoth of rainforest that it is known today. According to some archaeological studies, the Amazon region first had human inhabitants more than 10,000 years ago.
According to biological studies, the rainforest can only sustain around 0.2 person per km2, since, obviously, inhabitants would have to hunt and get food from the forest in order to survive. But just the same, people have lived in the Amazon Rainforest. According to WWF, around 350 ethnic and indigenous groups lived in the area, and around 30 million people live within the region today. Most of the people that comprise these 30 million people already live in the urbanized areas, although there are still a number of tribes that exist within the Amazon Rainforest itself. Among these tribes are the Barasana, the Emerillon, the Macuna, the Palikur, and the Wayana, among the numerous others. This is why, again, the Amazon Rainforest is important, since millions and millions of people rely on the rainforest for their survival. The number of people in these tribes may not be that overwhelming, but the fact remains that people depend on the rainforest.
But beyond the history and the people, what does the Amazon Rainforest got to offer?
For one, as half of the existing rainforests in the world, the Amazon Rainforest supplies the world with more than 20 percent of its oxygen. Remember that tress and other plants convert carbon dioxide into oxygen; therefore, it is simple to see why the Amazon Rainforest is very important to the world.
But again, more than that, the Amazon Rainforest is home a number of natural wonders and unique flora and fauna. After all, if the description “virgin forest” can fit only one location, it would certainly be the Amazon. A significant portion of the Amazon Rainforest is still unexplored, so no one knows what other things and wonders lay within the deepest reaches of the forest. This is where the speculations that Amazon may hold the answer to a number of medical mysteries came from, since no one can tell what kinds of plants and species live within the forest.
What is known, however, is this: out of ten known species, one lives in the Amazon. Obviously, this is an overwhelming collection of animals and plants. It is also known that more than two million insect species, 2,000 mammals and birds, 40,000 plant species, around 3,000 fishes, and 800 reptiles and amphibians have been classified scientifically to live with the Amazon. Furthermore, out of five bird species known today, one lives in the Amazon.
Tourism, it can be said, isn’t very common in the Amazon Rainforest, although it isn’t impossible to travel this great expanse of land either. It is easy to see why the Amazon Rainforest can still manage to appeal a number of people. After all, it is practically untouched by human hands, except for the indigenous tribes that live within the forest. Of course, you cannot the blame the people for not being courageous enough to explore and travel the Amazon. For one, there is a lack of tourist facilities within the forest itself, or even the outer parts of the rainforest. It could be argued that it should remain that way to further preserve the Amazon, although this surely makes traveling the world’s largest forest very difficult. Then there’s the chance of catching a number of diseases, as well as encountering a number of dangerous species. Piranhas, jaguars, vampire bats, poison dart frogs, electric eels, among many others, live in the Amazon Rainforest, and they all pose as a hazard to visitors.
However, today, people can avail of package tours of the Amazon Rainforest. Before, you would have to get your own crew—which would consist of guides and other helpers—in order to properly navigate through the forest. This time, however, the package tours of the Amazon Rainforest will make the process a lot more convenient and comfortable, and they will know what parts of the Amazon to visit, and how to avoid certain hazards that one could come across within the rainforest. These tours could range from the leisurely tours to the more extensive ones. You should pick one that fits your wants and, more importantly, your capacity. After all, it wouldn’t be a joke to travel and explore the Amazon Rainforest, even the less dense portions of it. It would also be wise to do proper preparations before going on a tour of the Amazon. For instance, receive the appropriate shots before exploring the forest, since Malaria, Dengue, and other diseases can be acquired in the forest. Other than that, contrary to common perception, with the proper guide, it is safe to travel some portions of the Amazon Rainforest.
Surprisingly, the Amazon Rainforest has a number of attractions that you should visit once you decide to travel this great rainforest. For instance, there are a number of national parks within the rainforest itself. Among them are the Serra do Divisor National Park, the Cabo Orange National Park, and the Tumucumaque National Park. The Cabo Orange National Park is unique because it is found on the coastline of the Amazon Rainforest, offering different sorts of wildlife compared to the other national parls. The Tumucumaque National Park, on the other hand, is the biggest protected tropical forest in the world. This park is accessible from the city of Macapa or Oiapoque. Both national parks can be found in Brazil, although the Tumucumaque reaches the French Guiana borders because of its size (said to be bigger than Belgium).
Other place of interest is the Mamiraua. Unlike the other mentioned destinations, the Mamiraua Reserve is actually built with facilities for tourists. In particular, its Uacari Floating Lodge is a popular destination for ecotourism. With the usual amenities of a topnotch hotel, guests here will have full access to the Mamirau Reserve, home to more than 400 bird species and more than 40 mammal species. The combination of good facilities as well as the benefit of seeing the Amazon Rainforest up close surely makes for a get travel destination.
Unfortunately, not all destinations within the Amazon Rainforest have tourist facilities or any kinds of infrastructure. This is why the Mamiraua is unique, as it is the only destination within the Amazon that offers modern amenities all the while protecting a great area of the Amazon.
Needless to say, the Amazon Rainforest needs to be protected. This is imperative, of course, since all forests and other natural wonders need to be protected. But since the Amazon Rainforest is the largest, it is definitely one of the priorities of a number of environmental protection agencies such as WWF. A number of threats that can affect the Amazon Rainforest include global warming and deforestation. Hence, it is imperative that people need to do their part in protecting this very important forest.
Several years ago, a controversy arose when an American president said that the Amazon Rainforest belongs to all of us. He may or may not have meant the statement literal, although the people of Brazil took offense to this statement. But now, when we say the Amazon Rainforest belongs to the world, this is by no means in form of sovereign ownership. This merely means that the Amazon Rainforest plays a very vital part in the world, and that, in return, the whole world needs to take part in protecting this very important natural wonder. That it was a candidate to become one of the new Natural Wonders of World is surely an understatement of how the significance it plays for each and every one existing today.