Wealth of the Rainforest - Saving the Amazon– by Leslie Taylor, the founder of Raintree Nutrition

The Amazon Rainforest is the world’s greatest natural resource – the most powerful and bio-actively diverse natural phenomenon on the planet. Yet still it is being destroyed just like other rainforests around the world. The problem and the solution to rainforest destruction are both economic. Rainforests are being destroyed worldwide for the profits they yield – mostly harvesting unsustainable resources like timber, for cattle and agriculture, and for subsistence cropping by rainforest inhabitants. However, if land owners, governments and those living in the rainforest today were given a viable economic reason NOT to destroy the rainforest, it could and would be saved. Thankfully, this viable economic alternative does exist. Many organizations have demonstrated that if the medicinal plants, fruits, nuts, oils and other resources like rubber, chocolate and chicle, were harvested sustainably, rainforest land would have much more economic value than if timber were harvested or if it were burned down for cattle or farming operations. Sustainable harvesting of these types of resources provides this value today, as well more long term income and profits year after year for generations to come.

This is no longer a theory. It is a fact and it is being implemented today. The latest statistics show that rainforest land converted to cattle operations yields the land owner $60 per acre and if timber is harvested, the land is worth $400 per acre. However, if these renewable and sustainable resources are harvested, the land will yield the land owner $2,400 per acre. This value provides an income not only today, but year after year – for generations while still protecting the forest. Just as important, to wild harvest the wealth of sustainable rainforest resources effectively, local people and indigenous inhabitants are employed. Today, entire communities and indigenous tribes earn 5 to 10 times more money wild harvesting medicinal plants, fruits, nuts and oils than they can earn by chopping down the forest for subsistence crops – another reason why so much rainforest land is lost year after year. This much needed income source creates the awareness and economic incentive for this population in the rainforest to protect and preserve the forests for long term profits for themselves and their children and is an important solution in saving the rainforest from destruction.

The Raintree companies advocate the preservation of rainforests by promoting the use of and creating consumer markets for these sustainable and renewable rainforest resources and products with special emphasis on important medicinal plants. Hundreds of pages of documentation, validation, and information on rainforest medicinal plants can be found on our website in an effort to help educate people about the true wealth of the rainforest – these important medicinal plants. We all share a common thread in this relationship, and that is the preservation of the rainforest, through education and by developing ethical, viable and economic alternatives. By creating a market demand and income from sustainably harvested rainforest resources, we are joined by many others in providing a morally and ecologically balanced relationship that is not only supportive of the rainforest and the monetary needs of the indigenous peoples of the rainforest, but that can compete financially with other unsustainable sources of income offered by timber companies and agricultural concerns. Raintree’s focus, since it’s inception, has been on the Amazon Rainforest.

The Amazon Rainforest has long been a symbol of mystery and power, a sacred link between humans and nature. It is also the richest biological incubator on the planet. It supports millions of plant, animal and insect species – a virtual library of chemical invention. In these archives, quinine, muscle relaxants, steroids and cancer medicines are found, among many others. More importantly are the new medicines still awaiting discovery – medicines for AIDS, diabetes, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s. Many secrets and untold treasures await discovery with the medicinal plants used by shamans, healers and the indigenous people of the rainforest tribes. So alluring are the mysteries of indigenous medical knowledge that over 100 pharmaceutical companies and even the US government are currently funding projects studying the indigenous plant knowledge and the specific plants used by native shamans and healers.

Long regarded as hocus-pocus by science, indigenous people’s empirical plant knowledge is now thought by many to be the Amazon’s new gold. This untold wealth of indigenous plants are the true wealth of the rainforest – not the trees. Rich in beneficial nutrients, phytochemicals and active constituents, the rainforest peoples have used these plants for centuries for survival, health, and well-being. Yet extracting these secrets from the jungles is no easy task and sadly, the rainforests may not last long enough into the future for man to unlock all their secrets. Tragically, rainforests once covered 14% of the earth’s land surface; now they cover a mere 6%. In less than 50 years, more than half of the world’s tropical rainforests have fallen victim to fire and the chain saw and the rate of destruction is still accelerating. Unbelievably, over 200,000 acres of rainforest are burned every day in the world. That is over 150 acres lost every minute of every day. Experts estimate that at the current rate of destruction, the last remaining rainforests could be consumed in less than 40 years. Experts also estimate that we are losing 130 species of plants, animals and insects every single day as they become extinct from the loss of rainforest land and habitats. How many possible cures to devastating diseases have we already lost?

We hope you will join us and others in supporting rainforest conservation and preservation to stop this tide of destruction. Raising consciousness of the problems is simply not enough. You as a consumer do have power and it can be put to good use. We hope that our website will not only educate you about the problems but show you effective ways in which you as an individual can positively affect your life and health while positively affecting the rainforest.

Thank you for your support!


Reprinted with permission from Raintree Nutrition