In many rainforest countries, there are too many people in the cities, and many people move to the rainforests to grow food for themselves. For example, in 1960 there were about 10,000 people (most of them forest people) in Rondonia, Brazil. In 1985, there were one million people living there, and most of them were people from the cities.
The people of many rainforest countries use wood from forest trees to make fires to cook their food. We must help them to plant new trees, and perhaps to find other ways of cooking.
We also need to learn about the trees of the rainforests, before we destroy them. One famous tree is the petroleum nut tree, from the Philippines. This tree makes oil, which we can use for fires for cooking or lighting. One of these trees can make fifty litres of oil every year.
In Latin America, many countries want to build dams to make more electricity for their cities. In many places forest people and animals have lost their homes, and thousands of trees have died, because dams need a lot of water to make electricity.
For example, with money from North America and Europe, Brazil is building dams in the Amazon rainforest. These dams will make forty per cent of Brazil’s electricity. Already, two dams have destroyed 4,500 square kilometres of forest.
In Australia, too, the rainforest is in danger because people want cheap electricity. The rainforest in Northern Queensland is in danger because a dam on the Tully River will destroy many square kilometres of forest.
Scientists are learning other ways of making electricity, for example, by using the sun. We must begin to use these new ways to make our electricity, or perhaps we must try to stop using so much electricity.