and mining are exploiting the Amazon rain forest to the point of no
return. In a recent victory, the Amazon Region Protected Areas (ARPA) program, will preserve a full third of the Amazon.
Because of this program, Tumucumaque
Mountains National Park is now the world's largest reserve. It covers 9,500,000 acres. President Cardoso of Brazil said, "Plants and animals that are endangered elsewhere will continue to
thrive in our forests forever." About 30% of the world's animal, plant,
and insect life inhabit Tumucumaque.
Amazon were a country, it would be the ninth largest in the world. It is
the world's greatest remaining natural resource, and the most
biologically diverse place on earth. Described as the "Lungs of the
Planet," it continuously recycles carbon dioxide into oxygen, and
produces over 20% of our earth's oxygen.
The rain forest covers over 1.2 billion acres and nine South American
countries: Brazil, Columbia, Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and the
three Guyanas. It represents 54% of the total rain forests left on
The life force of the Amazon is the mighty Amazon River. It starts as a
trickle high up in the snow-capped Andes mountains, and flows over 4,000
miles across the South American continent until it enters the Atlantic
ocean at Belem Brazil where it is 300 miles across. The river is so deep
that ocean liners can travel 2,300 miles inland. The Amazon River flows
through the center of the rain forest, and is fed by 1,100 tributaries.
It is the largest river system in the world. Over two-thirds of all the
fresh water found on earth is in the Amazon. The Amazon River carries
massive amounts of silt, and deposits it at the mouth of the river. This
silt has created the largest river island in the world, Marajo Island,
which is roughly the size of Switzerland. Life in the Amazon River is as
abundant and diverse as the surrounding rain forest. It contains more
species of fish than the entire Atlantic Ocean.
The rich diversity of plant species in the Amazon rain forest is the
highest on earth. One hectare (2.47 acres) may contain over 750 types of
trees, and 1,500 species of plants. The Amazon contains the largest
collection of living plants and animal species in the world. This
amazing jungle houses more than half of the world's species of flora and
Once a vast sea of tropical forest the Amazon today is scarred by roads,
farms, ranches, and dams. Brazil is gifted with a full third of the
world's remaining rain forests. More than 20% of the Amazon is gone.
This ocean of green, nearly as large as Australia, is being decimated
like the others before it. Why? Like other rain forests already lost
forever, the land is being cleared for timber, cattle ranching, mining
operations, road building, hydroelectric schemes, military operations,
and subsistence agriculture. Sadder still is that in many places the
rain forest is burnt simply to provide charcoal to power Brazil's
July, 7, 2004 - By Melissa Mathis, Greenspan