The Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon river basin, which covers about 40% of the South American continent is home to the largest rainforest on earth (7 million sq. kilometres) and includes parts of 9 countries: Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana.
Size & Value
The area represents more than half of the world’s rainforests. The region is home to about 2.5 million insect species, tens of thousands of plants and 2,000 birds and mammals. The Amazon Rainforest produces about 20% of the earth’s oxygen and is thus often described as the ‘lungs of the earth’.
Deforestation of the rainforests is a grave concern for many environmentalists, mainly because more than 20% of the area has already been destroyed. The land is being cleared for cattle ranches, mining operations, logging and sustenance agriculture.
Some forests are being burnt to make charcoal to power industrial plants. Another concern for Amazonia is the fate of its indigenous people - more than 90 tribes have been destroyed since the 1900s. If nothing is done to protect and preserve this jewel, the Amazon Rainforest may disappear entirely in another 50 years.