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The Amazon comprises the largest and most bio diverse tract of tropical rain forest in the world, with an estimated 390 billion individual trees divided into 16,000 species.
Yet this richest of natural environments would be devoid of life without a fertilization process that begins in the Sahara desert.
More than 56% of the dust fertilizing the Amazon rain forest comes from Northern Chad 3,000 miles away in the Sahara desert of North Africa.
Up to 50 million tons of Sahara dust are blown across the Atlantic Ocean each year and deposited in the Amazon.
The dust replaces an equivalent amount of phosphorus washed from the Amazon soil by rains and floods.
This unique planetary phenomenon has produced the largest collection of living plants and animal species in the world.
In 1989 environmentalist C.M. Peters demonstrated a bio-economic rationale for protecting the rain forest.
One hectare in the Peruvian Amazon has a calculated sustainable harvest value of $6,820 in fruit, latex, and timber.
A onetime clear cut produces $1000 of timber and $148 of grazing pasture.
By 2006 the amount of land conserved in the Amazon had tripled. Deforestation rates dropped 60% and 1,730,000 square kilometers of forest were put into some form of conservation.
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