Roads built through the forest can bring disadvantages as
well as benefits. Once new roads are opened it is easier for
settlers to move in and cut down more forest for farming.
Sometimes governments give people land rights if they clear
the forest for growing food. And when there are settlers,
new towns develop, using more land and requiring more farms
to produce food. In the Brazilian state of Pará, the
deforested area of the Amazon rainforest increased from 0.6%
to 17.3% after major road construction.
The easier movement of people also brings diseases to the
forest people. Again in the Amazon, imported disease has wiped
out 90% of the Surui Indians.
The meat of wild animals has always been important
in the diet of forest dwellers, just as farmed meat is for
other people. When roads are opened, it is easier for forest
people to earn much-needed money by selling bushmeat in the
towns. In the same way that European town dwellers consider
game (such as venison and grouse) a luxury food, so urban
people in Africa are willing to pay high prices for bushmeat.
Unfortunately, where logging trails open up the forest, hunting
becomes much easier and brings in outsiders. In the Mambele
area of Cameroon, for example, locals, loggers and city hunters
are between them killing so many antelope, monkeys, anteaters
and even gorillas that they are in danger of wiping them out.
(back to top)