WHAT IS DEFORESTATION?
Deforestation is the cutting of trees and removal of forest cover from a large area without planting new ones. It is mainly caused by human activities. Deforestation can also occur due to natural disasters. The earth is continuously losing its forest cover and this is not good for the environment.
Deforestation can occur due to several reasons. When trees are deliberately cut to create room for other activities, it causes deforestation. Certain accidental disasters can also lead to the loss of forest cover.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the world lost an estimated 10 million hectares (24.7 million acres) of forest per year between 2015 and 2020.
- Trees are a source of wood, which is used as fuel locally. A large percentage of forest cover is lost every year from charcoal burning.
- The furniture industry also uses timber when making chairs, tables, building materials, and other wood products.
- Since paper is made from wood, trees have to be cut to obtain the needed materials.
- Most of these industries practice illegal logging, thereby destroying forest cover.
- Up to 80% of deforestation around the tropics is caused by agricultural activities.
- As the human population continues to grow, the demand for food increases. People have to cut down trees to create space for crops.
- Trees that are cut for this purpose are rarely replaced, leading to the loss of more forest cover.
- Over time, large areas of land are left with few or no trees.
- Each year the earth loses trees due to forest fires. Forest fires can result from human activities or natural disasters.
- People often start fires in a small area when clearing land for other activities. If the fire is not controlled, it can spread to forests.
- Also, forest fires can be caused by extreme weather conditions, especially during hot summers.
- Forest fires can burn a large number of trees regardless of the cause.
- Cattle ranching is the main cause of deforestation in the earth’s tropical rainforests.
- Large areas of forest cover have been cleared to create room for ranching activities in different parts of the world
- Cattle ranchers cut down thousands of trees every year to make space for pasture, barns, and cattle dips.
- Cattle ranching is not good for the environment since it degrades the soil. This will prevent trees from growing as they should.
- Due to urbanization, trees have to be cut to make room for buildings.
- Trees are also cut down when constructing roads. Roads that pass through or near forests can cause massive deforestation in a given area.
- Other features such as dams may also require the felling of trees.
- Mining is the extraction of minerals, metals, and other geological materials from the soil. These activities can greatly impact forest cover.
- To excavate these materials from the earth, the forest cover has to be cleared. This leaves the soil bare for the excavation machines.
- Mining not only damages trees but also destroys the environment.
DEFORESTATION OF THE AMAZON
The Amazon is undoubtedly the largest rainforest in the world. It covers less than 4% of the earth’s surface and creates approximately 20% of the earth’s oxygen. The Amazon rainforest is continuously shrinking due to deforestation.
MAIN CAUSES OF DEFORESTATION IN THE AMAZON
Like most rainforests found in the tropics, the main cause of deforestation in the Amazon include:
Large-scale Soy Production
Vast areas of forest cover have been replaced by soy farms in the Amazon rainforests. Trees are cut and the vegetation cover is burnt to allow for soy production.
Thousands of hectares of forest cover are destroyed every year as a result of cattle ranching in the Amazon.
Deforestation For Palm Oil Production In The Amazon
Besides soy, the trees in the Amazon are cut to make way for palm tree plantations. Palm trees produce palm oil, a type of vegetable oil that is used as biofuel. Palm oil can also be used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries.
DEFORESTATION NEGATIVE EFFECTS
Deforestation impacts the environment in several ways:
Increased Global Warming
- Global warming is the gradual increase in temperature in the Earth’s atmosphere. This effect is attributed to increased CO2 levels.
- Trees absorb excess CO2, so their absence means even more CO2 will remain in the atmosphere, adding to global warming.
- Trees help to anchor soil in place with their roots.
- Without trees, the soil is more likely to be eroded by water, wind, and other natural agents.
- Soil erosion causes a loss of nutrients needed for plant growth. It can also lead to increased flooding and landslides.
- Deforestation has many negative effects on the climate. Trees are an essential component of the water cycle. They absorb water from the soil and release it into the atmosphere.
- The water vapor condenses to form clouds, which produce rain. When forests are destroyed, this process is interrupted, causing a change in climatic conditions.
- Without forest cover, the soil will have poor drainage. This can cause surface runoffs, leading to floods in the affected areas.
- Floods can destroy property and may even cause death in worst-case scenarios.
Loss of Biodiversity
- Forests provide shelter to different species of animals. Deforestation can lead to habitat loss and the extinction of certain animals.
- The Amazon houses up to 10% of all animal species on earth. Its destruction could lead to serious environmental problems.
HOW TO PREVENT DEFORESTATION
There are different strategies that we can use to prevent deforestation:
- Trees are essential for the environment. By planting trees, we can avoid some of the problems listed above.
- Most people don’t know the effect that deforestation has on the environment. With proper education, people will learn how they can preserve forests.
Reduce Meat Consumption
- Meat production requires a lot of space. This means forests have to be cut down to get the required space. Beef production accounts for the loss of 6.7 million acres of forest cover in the tropical regions each year.
- The government should impose regulations against illegal logging in forests. This will greatly reduce the number of trees that are cut.
Use Recyclable Paper or Tree-Free Paper.
- When we use recyclable paper, trees aren’t being cut down to make new paper. You can also buy tree-free paper, which is made from other plant sources, such as sugar cane waste. You can even buy tree-free toilet paper, which is made from bamboo. People should also use recyclable or tree-free packaging materials.
FORESTS ARE THE LUNGS OF PLANET EARTH
Without forests, life on earth would not be as we know it. The climate will be too harsh for both plant and animal life. If we don’t stop deforestation, the earth will experience a series of catastrophic events that will lead to the mass extinction of species.
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