By Jessie Shier

Destruction of the Rainforests for Profit

What would the earth look like without the rainforests?

Indigenous peoples in the rainforests know how to live without causing destruction.

They have lived sustainably in the rainforests for centuries.

The destruction of the rainforests for agriculture and wood is all in the name of Profit.

What if earth experienced global desertification in the future? This is a possibility if the destruction of the rainforests continues at its current rate.

The Rainforest Alliance is an non-profit organisation that awards accreditation to agriculturalists, forestry managers and eco-tourism operators who have demonstrated continued sustainable exploitation.

Tiger’s Home

The rainforests are home to more species than anywhere else on earth. They are home to indigenous peoples who live with an extraordinary wealth of knowledge.

They help regulate the global climate system.

They are vital to earth and all life on it. They have intrinsic value, perhaps in ways humans do not yet know.
The rainforests must be preserved.

Profits can never replace lost species, lost knowledge and a disrupted climate.

Sustainable Livelihoods in the Rainforest

Rainforests are the most diverse ecosystems on earth. It is estimated that between 50% and 90% of the world’s known animal and plant species inhabit them. There are more fish species living in the Amazon than live in the entire Atlantic ocean. The biodiversity at this level has unknown value because humans are still unaware of many of the species that live there and what they may have to offer.

Scientists believe that rainforests are of vital importance in balancing the global climate system because they act as major consumers of atmospheric carbon dioxide and play a large role in cooling the air that passes through them, (www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/rainforest).

It is believed that the air that passes through rainforests is cooled. This leads to the moisture present in the air to be released over the rainforests, since cooler air holds less water. This process, along with the vegetation’s transpiration process, leads to rainforests (and other types of forests) having self-sustained climates which, once removed, can not be replaced because the water which sustained them will have been lost to the area.

Peoples who live in the rainforests and/or depend on them for their livelihoods are making sustainable use of the water that is present. The loss of the water means the loss of the people.

The rainforests disperse the warm, wet air before it reaches the oceans, where it could potentially have contributed to the formation of a weather system such as a hurricane.

The loss of rainforest cover on the earth over recent decades had coincided with increased (and more severe) hurricane activity.

Rainforests have supported centuries of traditional preparations of medicines with their rich wealth of medicinal plant species. Many prescription drugs sold throughout the world are directly derived from plants that grow in the rainforest. There are many drugs which have properties that are known to fight diseases that are derived from rainforest-dwelling plants. A species of periwinkle from Madagascar was found to increase the survival rate for children with leukaemia from 20% to 80%; this species of periwinkle is now extinct, (www.environment.about.com/od/healthenvironment/a/rainforest_drug.htm).

Humans have tested a very small number of rainforest plants for their medicinal properties. This means that the potential in rainforests for the discovery of medicinal drugs is immense.

The peoples who live in the rainforest contain a wealth of knowledge regarding medicinal plants that is passed unrecorded from generation to generation. Therefore, the loss of these peoples means the loss of their knowledge.

The rainforests’ value is intrinsic and immeasurable, both to humans and to all of life on earth.

This is worth much more than the price of wood.

Unsustainable exploitation devastates rainforests.

 Sustainable exploitation can take this…

…to this…

…sustainability in action.

Thus, leaving this…



This article is adapted from an academic project undertaken by the author in ~2012. The material is copyrighted, ©️, all rights reserved. All external sources have been referenced as far as is possible (see reference list below).


An international, non-profit organisation dedicated to the conservation of tropical forests.

Independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation promoting the responsible management
of the world’s forests.

REDD Programme.United Nations collaborative programme on reducing emissions on deforestation and forest degradation.

SmartWood, a certification programme for forestry with the Rainforest Alliance

The sole accreditation body for the Forest Stewardship Council, the Marine Stewardship Council and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council.

A coalition of leading conservation groups that link responsible farmers with conscientious consumers.

An encyclopaedic website with an entry on rainforests.

Articles regarding current environmental concerns.

Additional Links:

In pdf format. A review of the science, policy and practice of reducing degradation emissions.

A site connecting the UN’s work with supporters around the world.