Rainforests: Way More Than Just Monkeys And Parrots, Part 2

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Rainforests: Way More Than Just Monkeys And Parrots, Part 2

Rainforest deforestation impacts the planet, local and global economies. We’re going to focus on the local changes, and work from there, up the chain of events and causality. The typical cycle is that rain forest lands get clear cut and used for crop lands, then cattle grazing lands when the crops fail, then abandoned (or used for housing if conveniently located), when even grazing lands fail. This is part of a vicious cycle most of the nutrients in a rain forest biome are tied in the living organisms, not the soil itself. When they’re clear cut, and burned, most of the resulting land is poor for agricultural use, low in phosphorus and nitrates, with soil that will blow away when the first wind storm hits. Soil exhaustion and salinization from over irrigation makes things even worse. This is, in many ways, analogous to strip-mining the soil, much as one would strip mine for copper or iron ore.

In an active and thriving rain forest, minerals and nutrients cycle quickly. When the rain forest is chopped down, those nutrients aren’t there any more. They’re shipped off as...

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