Tree cutting in the rainforest. Image credit

ZIMSEC O Level Geography Notes: Natural Resources: Sustainable use of tropical rainforests

  • The future survival of humankind depends on sustainable economic growth and development.
  • This is made possible by putting in place polices and sustainable/conservation programs such as the CAMPFIRE.
  • The following are some of the reasons why it is important to conserve the rainforests for the sustainability of human development.
  • Deforestation of the rainforests poses a threat to the earth’s biodiversity leading to extinction.
  • Biodiversity refers to the variety of plant and animal life in the world or in a particular habitat, including terrestrial, marine, and other aquatic ecosystems.
  • The tropical rainforests have the richest bank of edible plants for crop breeders to develop for domestic use.
  • Moreover 50% of the world’s medicines are found there and most are being lost to deforestation.
  • Tropical rainforests provide a habitat for animals, birds and insects which are being destroyed with the destruction of the forests.
  • Forests help to maintain the carbon dioxide and oxygen levels in the atmosphere.
  • Deforestation increases the carbon dioxide levels thus contributing to global warming.
  • World temperature have risen by 0.5°C since the end of the 19th
  • It is forecasted to rise by between 1°C and 3.5°C by the end of the 21st
  • This will lead to the melting of the ice caps, a rise in sea level and a drowning of the densely populated coastal plants.
  • Deforestation leads to loss of revenue from tourism.

Sustainable use of the rainforests can be made by employing some of the approaches suggested below

  • Governments have attempted to save the remaining rainforests by establishing protected forest areas and national parks, where logging and other human activities are prohibited by laws.
  • Plantations of both indigenous and exotic trees have been established to meet local and external needs for timber and fuelwood.
  • It has been realized that conservation strategies can only succeed with the involvement of the local communities who interact with the environment on a day to day basis.
  • A good example of this co-operation is the KORUP project in Cameroon.

To access more topics go to the O Level Geography Notes page