| ||The Amazon rainforest covers 64 percent of the surface area of Brazil. Reaching over 1.4 million mi2 (3,7 million km2), Amazonia is the greatest forest ecosystem in the world and comprises a third of all the tropical forests on the planet. These forests are home to probably half the world’s biological land heritage, which makes them one of the richest environments on the planet. But the inventory of the earth’s forms of animal and plant life is far from complete, particularly in tropical regions; the number of species remaining to be discovered is estimated at more than 10 million. This research is of special interest to the pharmaceutical industry as more than half the medicines currently in use contain a natural substance originally extracted from plants or animals as an active ingredient. Each day, nearly 78 square miles (200 km2) of forest are permanently wiped from the face of the earth, and with them a considerable number of species whose secrets are forever lost.
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