Yvan Marzin

AMAZON : REMEDIES SOON LOST

 

 

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nature, environnement, écologie, bio, vertAmazonie : les remèdes bientôt perdus

 

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By Catherine bourgeois May 18th, 2005 for Terre Sacree, 2nd part.

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The Amazon, located within tropical latitudes is considered to be the lungs of the planet, simply because it is the last remaining virgin land untouched by civilization. It produces 2/3 of global freshwater and shelters 1/3 of the Earth's rainforest, hence being the largest freshwater reservoir in the world.

Its forest diversity

We find in the Brazilian Amazon, 3 great types of forest habitat:

-The Terra Firma forest (Firm Earth), the largest with 253 Million hectares, it contains magnificent giant trees (between 40 and 50 meters high), medium size trees (between 30 and 40 meters high) and understorey between 15 and 20 meters high.

-The Varzea forest : 7 Million hectares, situated in the flood plains and therefore inundated from December to June. This forest consists mainly of white essences, fast growing softwood species and an array of palm trees.

-The Igapo forest : permanently flooded swamps with dense but low poor quality vegetation and totally inextricable. Paradoxically, the lands which were most accessible in the past are not any more, thank to the State endorsed opening of the road network.

Analysis of Landsat Satellites pictures by INPE estimates that on average, 12000 km2 of forest have been lost annually since the beginning of the 90's. In 1997, deforested land in Brazil reached 532 086 km2, slightly over 10% of its total surface, assuming the Brazilian Amazon occupies a 5 217 423 km2 territory (INPE, 1999).

According to Serrao (1995), the main causes for the Amazonian deforestation are in decreasing order ; clearance for livestock (50%), traditional slash-and-burn (30-35%) and timber exploitation. These latter figures demonstrate the extent of the role played by agrarian activities in the Amazonian environmental degradation.

With the current rate of deforestation, more than 50 000 species disappear every year. Thus,

many commonly used prescription drugs are tropical plants by-products : among these plants, Chinchona helps to cure Malaria. A quarter of the drugs sold by western pharmaceuticals carry at least one active ingredient originating from a tropical species. Derivatives of particular tropical molecules are used to fight Cancer, Malaria, heart conditions, Bronchitis, High blood pressure,

(Dysentery) or Tuberculosis.

Destroying the tropical rainforest and the species it accommodates (Fauna and Flora) represents a very serious threat to medicine.

In the same  breath, the native fauna will disappear : jaguars, giant amazonian river tortoises.....

Worse yet, Amerindians will take to their graves, dug up by the West, their traditional knowledge and their complete mastery over "miracle cures".

Translated by Patou soult patou.sinista@virgin.net

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