What are the harmful after effects caused by mining, oil extraction and hydroelectric dams?

As the human race multiplies in numbers, Man’s need for more living space, wood, fuel, and other resources remains unsatisfied. Rainforests are treasure houses of varied resources. These resources are made available for human use by mining, oil extraction, and construction of dams for power.

Mining is done in places that have rich deposits of valuable minerals. The dense structure of rainforests makes it difficult to access such mineral hotspots. Trees and other natural resources which obstruct accessibility are then wiped out to construct roads. Trees also provide charcoal, a much-needed raw material in the iron ore minefields. Gold mining is the deadliest of all. Harmful mercury needed for gold extraction enters uncontrollably into the soil and water bodies, destroying the plant and aquatic world in and around.

Oil extraction comes along with many similar threats. Along with forest destruction, it also causes oil spillage and release of harmful by-products into the air and water channels, causing severe harm to the organic world.

Hydroelectric power is affordable, clean, and an excellent form of renewable energy. However, the harnessing of this energy form comes along with its demerits too. The construction of large hydroelectric dams results in flooding. Large acres of rainforest land get submerged or washed away. Trees clog and decay in these waters and results in the perishing of thousands of plant and animal life.

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Why is it said that pet food and palm kernel meals contribute to rainforest destruction?

Do you own a pet dog or cat at home? What do you feed them? If your answer is pet food, then you need to do a little rethinking.

Cattle feed and pet meals are a curse to the rainforest ecosystem.

How is this? Palm oil, as we know, is an essential ingredient in the food industry and is extracted from the fruit of the palm tree. Palm fruits have a nut-like centre called kernel that is rich in protein. These protein-rich kernels appear as by-products and are chopped and mashed up to make palm-kernel cakes, a chief ingredient used in pet food.

Oil palms of the rainforests are homes for the orang-utans. Massive logging of oil palms to boost the palm oil sector has led to the annihilation of these poor tree-dwellers!

According to the IUCN, the total number of orang-utans has declined to its half over the past ten years. Today, the Sumatran orang-utans have been labelled as critically endangered and the Bornean orang-utans as endangered.

A recent surge in awareness of the issue has prompted several palm oil companies to develop more sustainable technologies in the palm oil manufacturing process. It has also ensured better conservation of these natural habitats. However, efforts in realizing the same approach in the pet kernel meal sector are not successful. Hence, the problem remains a grave issue.

So, it is up to you to make sure that the smile on your pet’s face is not the cry of a poor orang-utan!

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Why is it said that logging is a real threat to rainforests?

The chair that you lazily lounge on or the papers that you scribble on were once tall trees in a forest somewhere! Rainforests are Mother Nature’s gift to mankind.

Trees form the basic structure of every rainforest. They are not just friends of the natural ecosystem, but also an irreplaceable element in the commercial sector. For example, hardwood trees like Mahogany fetch a huge profit in the furniture market. The wood pulp from the softwoods of the Canadian coniferous trees forms the raw material for making paper.

However, such large profits rule the market only for short terms. Forest resources are mostly non-renewable. A commercially valuable tree that probably takes decades to grow can be uprooted in just a few minutes! As the tree falls to the ground, it crushes several other smaller trees. A forest area can be wiped off in just a few days but will probably never recover at all!

Paving roads for mining minerals require the clearing of large forest areas. This creates hidden opportunities for illegal trade of timber and poaching of wild animals for bushmeat. Almost 90 per cent of the West African rainforests have disappeared. Apes and gorillas are killed and sold on roadsides and markets. Experts fear that at least 1/10th of the world’s total timber reaches the markets through illegal logging practices.

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What are the major threats to the rainforests?

Forests are the elixir of life. You may be thousands of kilometres away from one, but the air you breathe in or the comforts you enjoy in your room are more or less connected with or controlled by these jungles.

Rainforests are not just trees standing together. It is a spectacular ecosystem of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, invertebrates, bacteria, and even abiotic elements such as soil, air, and water.

Better living conditions and advancements in the health sector have resulted in a longer lifespan and increased birth rates. Man, and his constant demand for space, food, and other comforts, put an equal demand upon raw materials, a majority of which are found only within these rainforests. Hence, forest trees are felled for timber or destroyed for gaining access to mining.

Other major reasons behind deforestation are, increased population in rainforest areas, excessive demand for tropical hardwoods, cattle grazing, palm oil, and soya plantations, and construction of hydroelectric dams.

The destruction of the rainforests directly affects other ecosystems throughout the world. The latter part of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st have witnessed about half of the world’s total rainforest areas being wiped away because of deforestation.

However, media coverage on grave issues such as global warming and climatic changes has raised better awareness of sustainable practices to ensure forest conservation.

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What are the characteristic traits of the Chimbu and Tlingit tribes?

The Chimbu tribal folks live in dispersed settlements all across the central highland rainforests of Papua New Guinea. Their houses are oval or rectangular with low thatched roofs. The Chimbu practise subsistence agriculture through shifting cultivation.

Subsistence agriculture is the practice of cultivating just what is required to meet their needs. Crops include sweet potatoes, bananas, and beans. In shifting cultivation, a plot is extensively used for few years to cultivate crops. It is then ploughed and left barren without sowing for several years. These plots are never abandoned but handed down to other members of the family.

Pigs are revered as valuable assets for trade and as an exchange item during their highly ceremonial rituals. The Chimbus are famous for their strikingly huge headdresses made from bird feathers and their body decorations.

The Tlingit tribes inhabit the temperate rainforests that line the Pacific north-western coast of Northern America. Tlingit means ‘People of the Tides’. The land, caressed by sea inlets, rivers, and streams, is plentiful with diverse and edible aquatic life such as sea oysters, clams, crab, salmon, and herring. Seaweeds such as kelps are harvested and used in soups.

The inland Tlingit tribes hunt deer, elk, mountain goats, and rabbits for food and gather or harvest berries, nuts, and wild celery.

The Tlingit culture is multifaceted and gives much emphasis on family and relationships. Houses are made of planks and are fastened together without using nails or any other kind of adhesive.

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