We are losing Earth's greatest biological treasures just as we are beginning
to appreciate their true value.
Rainforests once covered 14% of the earth's land surface; now they cover
a shocking 6%, experts estimate that the last remaining rainforests could be destroyed in less than 40 years.
One and one-half acres of rainforest are lost every
second with bad consequences.
Rainforests are being destroyed because the value of rainforest land
is seen as only the value of its timber by multi-national
logging companies, and land owners.
Nearly half of the world's species of plants, animals and micro-organisms
will be destroyed or badly threatened over the next quarter
century due to Rainforest deforestation.
Experts estimates that we are losing 137 plant, animal and insect species
every single day due to rainforest deforestation. That means
up to 50,000 species a year.
As the rainforest species disappear, so do many possible cures for life-threatening diseases. At the moment, 121 prescription drugs sold
world-wide come from plant sources. While 25% of Western
pharmaceuticals are come from rainforest ingredients, less that 1% of these tropical trees and plants have been tested by scientists.
Most rainforests are cleared by chainsaws, bulldozers and fires, for
its timber value and then are followed by farming and ranching
operations, even by world giants like Mitsubishi Corporation, Georgia Pacific, Texaco and Unocal.
There were an estimated ten million Indians living in the Amazonian Rainforest
five centuries ago. Today there are less than 200,000.
In Brazil alone, European colonists have destroyed
more than 90 indigenous tribes since the 1900's.
With them have gone centuries of accumulated knowledge of the medicinal
value of rainforest species. As the tribal home grounds
continue to be destroyed by deforestation, rainforest peoples are also disappearing.
Most medicine men and shamans remaining in the Rainforests today are
70 years old or more. Each time a Rainforest medicine man
dies so does the knowledge dies with them.