‘What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection
of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.’
Mahatma Gandhi


The Amazon Rainforest was in the news for most of last month. The whole world depends on its unique eco system, which is also extremely important in regulating the climate. But for the past few weeks this important area has been burning. Fires have been destroying the homes of indigenous tribes and millions of animals and birds have died. There are so many fires burning at the moment that the smoke is visible from space.
This tropical area doesn’t usually burn on its own, but this year the fires have increased by 80%. So what has caused them? The fires were probably started by farmers who need the land for cattle. Brazil is an important exporter of beef and so farmers earn much more money if the area is free of trees. Because of the very hot dry summer there are fires in many other places in the world too; Siberia, Alaska, Greenland and the Canary Islands, for example.
Public reaction has been great, especially on social networks like Twitter. Many people have criticised the media because they haven’t given the problem much attention – unlike the Notre Dame fire earlier this year.


Here are some ways you can help

• Plant a tree. Reforestation is very important.

• Use a search engine like www.ecosia.org which plants a tree for every 45 searches you run.

• Donate to a rainforest action group like the Rainforest Trust (www.rainforesttrust.org) to help protect land.

• Sign a petition (www.greenpeace.org) to force the Brazilian government to help.

• Cut down the amount of beef you eat. Lots of the meat you find in fast food burgers is linked to deforestation.



Answer keys


Illustration by Paolo D’Altan, taken from The Lost World, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Reading & Training, Step Two (CEFR B1.1)