The Retreating Tropical Rain Forests

At 68, I’m paying more attention about the rapidly deterioration of our planet.  During my prime years, my only interests were Texaco, petroleum and numbers.  I was awake while driving to work every day, yet my eyes were closed.  I had no idea what was happening around us.

Maybe it has to do with the natural process of aging, but I’m deeply worried about the dwindling tropical rain forests, the pollution of our rivers and streams, the pollution of the air, and the pollution of our great oceans.  In general, our whole planet Earth is under siege by the so-called “Homo sapiens”.

Currently farmers are a major cause of deforestation in Panama. They use slash and burn techniques to quickly clear the land for cattle raising and to grow crops. These practices quickly drain the soil of its nutrients and force the farmers to move to a new track of land within ten years of clearing their previous tract. While the slash and burn process helps add nutrients to the soil as well as affect pH, it is not a very sustainable process because it delivers huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and also takes away the ability for the forested area that was once there to sequester carbon from the atmosphere.


  • Less water runs to reservoirs
  • Fresh water systems are now polluted
  • Global warming from the loss of Carbon Sequestration causes changes in rain patterns and it is predicted that the amount of rain will decrease.

Recently more than 145,000 people were unable to drink water from Río La Villa, because it was contaminated.  It was not safe to drink its water.  A severe drought in the middle region of Panama called the “Arco Seco” has dried up rivers, swamps and streams.  People have been forced to buy bottled water and to transport water from long distances for their cattle.  It is not a pleasant scene and rains are not expected until mid June or later.  Meanwhile the drought continues.

Panama’s tropical environment supports an abundance of plants. Forests dominate, interrupted in places by grasslands, scrub, and crops. Although nearly 40 percent of Panama is still wooded, deforestation is a continuing threat to the rain-drenched woodlands. Tree cover has been reduced by more than 50 percent since the 1940s.  Over the years, our tropical rain forest have retreated in the name of progress.  Large tropical jungle regions are now surrounded by urban areas and barbed wire.

Deforestation is clearing Earth’s forests on a massive scale, often resulting in damage to the quality of the land. Forests still cover about 30 percent of the world’s land area, but swaths the size of Panama are lost each year.

The world’s rain forests could completely vanish in a hundred years at the current rate of deforestation.

Deforestation has many negative effects on the environment. The most dramatic impact is a loss of habitat for millions of species. Seventy percent of Earth’s land animals and plants live in forests, and many cannot survive the deforestation that destroys their homes.

Deforestation also drives climate change. Forest soils are moist, but without protection from sun-blocking tree cover they quickly dry out. Trees also help perpetuate the water cycle by returning water vapor back into the atmosphere. Without trees to fill these roles, many former forest lands can quickly become barren deserts.

The following pictures depict the way I envision our retreating tropical rain forests surrounded by buildings, fences and barbed wire.  I’m sorry, but at this moment my glass is half-empty as I look around and see the destruction of our natural resources.

Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

Is there a solution to this mess?  I think there is.  If we start immediately to replant trees at a massive global scale, in a period of approximately ten to twenty years, we would have recovered our lost forests.  It can be done—if and only there is a strong will to do it.  Good Day.


2 thoughts on “The Retreating Tropical Rain Forests”

  1. Wonderful post and very insightful! I believe you are correct, we need to take care of Mother Earth. We are only caretakers and not doing a very good job as we leave a huge imprint of destruction. Your photos are well done depicting nature behind bars and fencing. In essence harnessing nature, sadly. Thank you for the reminder, Omar~

    1. Morning Barbara,

      I’m afraid we are losing our planet faster than anticipated. The lessons of Nepal, the death of the Dead Sea, the erosion of the Mediterranean Sea, the Climate Change Effect and other Earth’s vulnerabilites are eloquent signs of our planet’s poor health.

      Meanwhile, our world leaders are doing nothing. Hubris, greed and world dominance are clouding their judgement.

      I’m very worried of our near future.



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