In South America plants and flowers are abundant. Currently, scientists estimate that about 80% of the planet’s flowering plant species are in the Amazon rainforest – which covers about 5.5 square kilometers of the continent. These plants and flowers are some of the most weird and wonderful you’ll ever see, with bright colors and bizarre shapes. However, much of the plant life in the Amazon is under threat.
Due to logging, ranching, and commercial development, many of these beautiful plants face extinction. For example, environmental activists estimate that almost half of the Amazon’s tree species are endangered. Overall, logging, mining, and farming have cleared nearly 12% of the Amazon’s total area. If deforestation continues at this pace, then 57% of the rainforest tree species could be endangered. Here, we list a few of the Amazon’s endangered species and some simple ways we can help slow deforestation.
Three of the Amazon’s endangered plant species
Orchids are the largest flowering plants in the world. Furthermore, they’re also one of the most diverse species. There are more than 25,000 different types of orchid in South America, each with their own unique colors and patterns. However, every single one is either endangered or threatened. On top of the threat of deforestation, orchid hunting is becoming a significant issue. As commercial demand for these flowers grows, irresponsible sourcing is putting numerous species at risk.
In South America plants and flowers of the bromeliad family used to be fairly common. There are approximately 2,700 species in the Amazon, each with their own distinctive characteristics. Some are spiky and thin whilst others are flat and broad, with foliage that comes in several different patterns and colors. Often, the rosette-shaped flowers become so heavy they break off their stems. For instance, a bromeliad you might have heard of is the pineapple. However, despite our familiarity with the bromeliad, nearly half of this plant family is endangered.
3. The brazil nut tree
Bertholletia excelsa – otherwise known as the brazil nut tree – grows up to 160 feet tall and lives for 500 years. This tree produces the much-loved Christmas stocking filler and tasty snack, the brazil nut. Grown in fist-sized pods, these trees are some of the most majestic in the Amazon rainforest. However, brazil nuts are a multi-million dollar business; currently, companies harvest over 45,000 tonnes of brazil nuts every year. If collection continues at current rates, few nuts will remain to germinate new trees.
Saving South America plants and flowers
In South America plants and flowers are in danger due to massive deforestation. Much of this clearance is driven by consumer demand. Therefore, it is our responsibility to ensure that we change our habits and reduce demand. Although this might sound like a huge undertaking, there are a few simple things that we can do to help fight deforestation:
- Choose green energy: This is rule number one of environmental consciousness. When choosing your energy supplier or fuel source, look for a company that generates energy from renewable sources. Avoid coal, oil, and burning wood.
- Reduce paper consumption: It’s easier than ever now to go completely paperless. Furthermore, if you absolutely have to print something out, be sure to look for products from recycled stock.
- Eat less beef: An enormous amount of deforestation occurs because of cattle ranching. Therefore, if we reduce our beef consumption, there won’t be the need for extra grazing land.
- Hold companies accountable: If you think that a company’s practices are harmful, let them know. Thanks to the Internet, consumers have more power to influence company policy than ever before. You can express concern on social media, through a petition, or organizing a boycott.
- Invest in indigenous communities: The people of the Amazon have been protecting the forest for hundreds of years. Therefore, one of the best ways to help protect these environments is to donate to charities that work directly with these communities.