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:. . Central America:. . Maya Biosphere Reserve

Sustainable development of rainforests is a reasonable long-term goal, but it is not an easy one to achieve. Sustainability, often referred to as environmental sustainability, can be defined as using natural resources in a way that does not negatively affect the ability of future generations to use those resources. Using the rainforest in a manner that will insure its use by future generations requires companies and individuals to develop a system of planting seedlings to replace the trees that are cut down. As stated above, sustainability is a long-term goal. Unfortunately, short-term goals frequently determine the actions of companies and individuals. Logging companies in an attempt to increase profits may clear-cut the forest. Individuals who suffer from poverty may use slash-and-burn agriculture in an attempt to provide food for their family. In both cases, the actions can be seen as responses to short-term interests and are not examples of the sustainable use of the forest.

On a global political level there is disagreement between developed and developing countries about sustainability. Developed countries have urged developing countries (which possess most of the rainforests) to conserve their rainforests. Rainforests produce oxygen, absorb greenhouse gases, and provide habitats for millions of animal and plant species. Developing countries recognize the importance of rainforests, but argue that much of the rainforest destruction occurs due to consumer demands from developed countries. In particular, they argue that developed countries want the valuable and increasingly rare rainforest woods such as mahogany. In some cases, when rainforests are clear-cut the land is used for cattle grazing. The cattle are then primarily sold to developed countries for meat consumption since most individuals in developing countries can rarely afford to buy meat. In both cases, it is the developed countries that create the consumer demands that lead to rainforest destruction.

In summary, sustainable development of the rainforests is not likely to be achieved until issues like poverty and consumer demands are resolved. Laws to protect the rainforest currently exist in developing countries, but enforcement is difficult because of the cost of patrolling the rainforests. As long as meat and wood exports bring in the much needed income to developing countries, sustainable development of the rainforests is not likely to be practiced.


The Maya..|   Rainforests..|..
Sustainable Development..|..The Maya Biosphere Reserve..|..Challenges to the Reserve

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