Mato Grosso, Amazon – September 4th, 2008
The largest remaining tropical forest in the world, the Amazon rainforest is as large as Western Europe or the whole of the US. It is thought to be the most diverse ecosystem on Earth.
17 per cent of the original rainforest of the Amazon has already been completely destroyed. Rampant deforestation has been fuelled by demand for cheap supplies of plywood and tropical timber locally and in order to grow commodities such as soy, which is used mainly to feed animals in Europe and China.
In the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso large soy monocultures are found in places that were once rainforest-rich in biodiversity. In summer 2006 Greenpeace succeeded in establishing a two-year moratorium for internationally leading soy traders, by which no soy may be taken from newly cleared rainforest land. Greenpeace is doing all it can to see this moratorium extended.
The Amazon rainforest is one of the most biodiverse regions on earth. It is home to nearly 10% of the world’s mammals and a staggering 15% of the world’s known land-based plant species, with as many as 300 species of tree in a single hectare.
The region is also home to about 220,000 people from 180 different indigenous nations who live deep in the rainforest, along with many more traditional forest-dependent communities. The rainforest provides these people with everything from food and shelter to tools and medicines, and plays a crucial role in the spiritual life of indigenous peoples. All this is threatened by deforestation and related crimes, committed for the sake of the profits to be made from agricultural commodities such as soy.