Throughout our school years, most of us were taught about the richness of the Amazon rainforest and how deforestation of the area poses the risk of pushing species into extinction – even before they are discovered by people! Unfortunately, that fear is now a very likely reality, as 381 new species have been discovered in the Amazon in just two years.

The research, conducted by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Brazil’s Mamiraua Institute, was recently released in Sao Paolo and is the third report in a series that reveals 2,000 new species discovered in the Amazon from 1999-2015. Among the 381 species found between 2014-15 are 216 plants, 20 mammals, 19 reptiles, 32 amphibians, 93 fish, and one bird. Of the mammals found, two were fossils.

As incredible as this news is, it is really not much of a surprise, as a new species is found in the Amazon about every two days. What is a surprise though is why agriculture, logging, and mining companies are still allowed to destroy these irreplaceable rainforests despite all the facts that prove the Amazon is essential for all life on earth. Although it only covers one percent of the earth, it is home to ten percent of the world’s known species, and the plant species within these rainforests could potentially hold the secrets to cures for diseases.

According to WWF Brazil Amazon program coordinator, Richard Mello, “All the species that were discovered, all 381, are in areas where humankind is destroying the Amazon. This is very important to us because it links the fact that our economic activities are causing species to go extinct before we even know about them.”

Although the Amazon might seem like a far away paradise, we can all make one small shift in our daily lives to help protect this precious rainforest. Around 1,600 trees are cut down every minute in the Amazon to make room for cattle and their feed. Considering Brazil exports a majority of their soy (which feeds U.S. livestock) and beef to the U.S., we all play a hand in this destruction. By simply choosing to consume more plant-based foods instead of meat and dairy, we can all help minimize the demand for products that are destroying the world’s rainforests.

To learn more about how you can start using your food choices to heal the planet, check out One Green Planet’s #EatForThePlanet campaign. 

If you would like to learn more about this study, please visit here. And please share this with your network to remind everyone that the Amazon needs our support to survive!

Image Source: Andre Deak/Wikimedia Commons