Definition of Deforestation
Deforestation is the removal of trees permanently either to utilize the land for other purposes or to utilize trees. Cutting a lot of trees without planning for sustainable growth of trees refers to deforestation.
Globally, the shrinking of forests leads to changes in global climatic conditions, soil erosion, and loss of biodiversity. On a broader scale, it is the disruption of the ecosystem that indirectly affects healthy life on earth.
What Are The Causes of Deforestation
In the last century, a massive expansion in some of the activities down the green land by 30% and has been observed in form of imbalances in the environment and as well as in the natural ecological system. Here are the top five causes of deforestation.
Different types of agricultural activities are essentially important for the survival of humans on earth. Mostly forest areas are substituted for agricultural crops and plantations as forest lands can be easily converted into cultivation and livestock ranching. To overcome food insecurities; the production of milk, meat, wheat, maize, beans, palm oil, etc is in the list of agriculture products that clear acres of forests at an alarming rate.
An Increase in population growth leads to the development of houses and expansion of industries that have a direct effect on tropical forests as it needs more farmland, livestock farming, roads, and infrastructure that will cause deforestation. In many countries shrinking of forests is also practicing for the construction of large dams, roads, railways, and sports grounds. Over-utilization of forest land into commercial land has harmful effects on the environment (discussed below).
The birth of civilization has intensified the use of wood as a primary source of living. Wood is used as a fuel resource for cooking and heating in rural residential areas all around the globe. People with a substantial level of resources in rural communities have inadequate means to meet their needs, so they go for chopping the wood. In the commercial, wood industries like furniture, matchsticks, the paper need a sufficient quantity of wood for the production of the final goods. Only paper production needs 640 million trees per year while recycling of those papers could possibly save 27.5 million tons of carbon dioxide contributed to the global atmosphere. Logging is also one of the main causes of deforestation. Illegal logging is a common practice in many countries that also affect the livelihood of people depending on forests.
Mining is also an important factor behind deforestation. Digging for coal, petroleum, or gold mines requires a large amount of forest land. These projects of mining are also followed by the construction of roads, railways, and power systems that put extra pressure on the ecosystem.
Every year earth loses a large portion of trees due to forest fires worldwide. This happens due to extreme weather conditions. Such types of accidents caused by a man or nature consequently result in a huge loss of trees, endangered animals forests plants, and lives of valuable species. Some forest animals directly die in fires while most of them indirectly die with time due to insufficient food and water. It is said that in earlier extensive wars wildfires were practicing during the attack on enemies to deprive them of benefits from forests and necessary resources. Such human insane mistakes were also a major cause of deforestation.
What else Causes deforestation
There is an inverse relationship between natural resources and population growth. Overpopulation needs more land for settlements like setting up housing, building new farmlands, Highways, and roads in order to accommodate the need of the population. To fulfill such a need, converting forest land into residential or commercial is a common practice that is observed in this world for the last 70 to 80 years.
2) Climate change
Trees convert carbon dioxide into oxygen that why we considered that forests work as lungs for our planet. Besides releasing oxygen, but due to water vapors rainforests also create enough humidity. A decrease in forests can cause a decrease in humidity, changes in climatic conditions, etc. Low Humidity level means dry weather conditions that may result dry out the vulnerable plants. During the peak temperature in winter, these dry trees in tropical rainforests can also possibly catch fires easily and can cause fire damage.
Effects of Deforestation
Here are some of the major effects caused by deforestation
Extinction of Species
Emission of Greenhouse Gases
Culture and Human Lives
Tropical forests are found on the high latitude areas where it became home to millions of diverse animals, birds, and insects. Almost 80 % of the plant and animals live in tropical rain-forests. Most of the rare forest species are sensitive to climate conditions and forests provide them wide shelter. Chopping of trees turns thin the outer covering layer for sun rays during daytime and colder during the night, therefore; survival of vulnerable species becomes insecure. Eventually, their lives begin at risk of extinction. An ecosystem of nature depends on one another; the same is the case of species. Forest animals depend on one another. Due to disturbance in habitat, the extinction of the animals of each individual rainforest has consequences on others. One can say that the massive destruction of trees has a great impact on the extinction of forest animals and also the extinction of plants. large scale cutting of trees disturbs the forest ecosystem that leads to loss of biodiversity.
Approximately 12 % of the oxygen is produced by Amazon and other rain forests. Forests are the biggest source of oxygen and water that’s why they are considered as lungs of the earth. It absorbs carbon dioxide and releases fresh oxygen that contributes to reduce global warming. The temperature in rain forests remains very cool and pleasant for forest animals. Tree’s roots also work as a filter to purify land water and it makes our environment clean and green. Carbon dioxide and other harmful gases in the environment due to anthropogenic activities lead to increasing the earth’s temperature. Cutting of rainforests plants can create a lack of air purifiers and a deficit in the absorption of harmful gases. These gases increase the temperature in the earth’s atmosphere that contributes to climate change. Therefore emission of greenhouse gases (GHG’s) is also a harmful effect of deforestation.
Tress in the environment works as a natural barrier to slow down the speed of water as it runs off the land. Roots of the plants grip the soil and prevent it from washing away due to the speedy flow of any river water or flood water. Plants also provide rich nutrients to soil fertility. In the absence of trees, topsoil becomes erodes and becomes a barren landscape. Soil erosion is one of the major effects of deforestation behind unsustainable agriculture because most of the land in coastal regions becomes more vulnerable to flooding.
Climate change refers to rising global temperature, rise in sea level, melting of glaciers, unpredictable and irregular patterns of rainfall. All these changes that occur in the environment are directly or indirectly associated with rising in the earth temperature. As already discussed above that plants and trees have the capacity to absorb carbon dioxide and balance the quality of natural air. Deforestation causes less absorption of carbon dioxide and these harmful gases stay in the air and generate greenhouse gases emission that leads to an increase in the earth temperature. Therefore deforestation has an indirect effect on climate change.
Deforestation also has negative effects on native people. 250 million people around the world live in different tribes have no legal rights no land and government allow them to lives in forests. They protect forests from illegal timber mafias and also they generate profit from woods. Bonfires, hunting competitions remain their culture remains in the woods. Large scale deforestation sometimes directly affects the lifestyle and culture of such tribes. one can say that the effects of deforestation are not bounded towards forest animals and species but it also has negative effects on people around forests.
History of Deforestation
The practice of cutting trees is started ever since the appearance of Homo erectus, approximately 2 million years ago. Human live from the stone age utilize forests for multi-purposes like food, shelter, weapons, houses, and carts and still, most of the refugees live a forest life and every corner of the world, especially refugees in Europe.
In rough estimation the earth was covered 45 % by forests almost 23 million square miles 6 billion hectares). From the last 10,000 years, variation in earth temperature continuously changed the shape of the forests, and also human activities had a greater impact on forests from the past 2 centuries. Generally, the human’s carbon footprint to intensify global warming is so visible that many scientists are arguing on modern geological age to be renamed by Anthropocene epoch. The current world forests cover approximately 15 million square miles (4 billion hectares) almost 30 percent land surface of the earth. Massive deforestation starts in the initial stage of industrialization in the 1800s, metal saws and then power saws accelerate the speed of clearing lands for mining, infrastructure development like roads, railway tracks, and commercial activities. Here are some of the historical deforestation statistics.
- An article “history today” written by Michel Williams in 2001 claimed that approximately 67,000 square kilometers cover area by forests has been cleared from the time period of the late 17 century to the start of 20 century in Europe Russia.
- Nearly 2 million square km of forests have been cleared for grazing in North America.
- Studies on forests estimate 5000 square kilometers of area in the Amazon rainforest logged each year.
Solutions for Deforestation
The Phenomenon of climate change has been observed for more than decades. Some countries on the poles of the globe are listed with greater risk at climate change vulnerability index and others are less but it has a huge impact globally. Climate change can be tackled by following adaptation and mitigation strategies. There is a need of developing alternatives to deforestation. Some of the solutions for deforestation are discussed here.
- Forests can be restored through afforestation. Environmental protection organizations should start awareness campaigns for plantations on barren lands, mountains, and hilly areas.
- Strengthening the regional, national, and local policies regarding the environment and forest protection.
- Chopping of trees above the threshold level for basic needs. Trees and plants that are chopped below the threshold level cannot grow again. Therefore trees should be chopping in a way that it can grow again with respect to time.
- Many people are unaware of this global issue. International organizations and government institutes can aware general people through media and especially awareness drives in educational institutes, schools, colleges, and universities.
- We can save trees from deforestation by using alternatives sources of fuel energy. In urban areas, most people use liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as a fuel but in rural areas, one can easily produce bio-gas from waste and can use it as fuel energy.
- Reduce paper consumption can also reduce the chopping of forests. We can use soft copies of books, magazines, and newspapers that can possibly reduce the use of paper and less deforestation.
Here are some of the questions that might come to your mind after reading this article.
Q1: Why deforestation is bad?
Forests play an important role in human life. Still, it’s a home for more than 2 million people of this earth and a habitat for millions of species. The foremost key role of forests is that it converts carbon dioxide into fresh oxygen that makes life possible on earth. It helps us in living, most of the medicine that we use for the cure is made from herbs and other useful plants and many more countless benefits of forests.
Q2: What are the causes of deforestation?
Above earlier we discuss the major causes of deforestation, you can also read the deforestation facts to know more about deforestation.
Q3: how to stop deforestation?
Here are some tips to stop deforestation in our individual capacity.
- Plant more trees as much as you can. I think every student in every school should have the assignment of planting at least one tree in their home’s backyard. How efficient it is if followed i.e. number of students around the world is equal to the number of trees.
- Less use of paper. We all know, it’s an era of digitalization and we have alternative ways to change hard form documents to soft form so there should be polices for less use of paper in public offices, schools and universities.
- Less use of wood as fossil fuels. The slum and rural areas of the developing countries mostly use firewood for cooking. Need an awareness of afforestation in such places.
- Less use of products containing palm oil. Most of the forest lands are converted into cropland to cultivate palm oil plants. The decrease in the demand for products having palm oil can possibly reduce the cutting down of tropical forests in the future.
- Always buy sustainable wood products that are certified and their firms are committed to reducing deforestation.
- Awareness in public regarding forest protection can also reduce the chopping of illegal trees on a local level.
- Last but not least, there should be strict legislation for forestation protection on a national level in each country
Forests are the biggest source of a clean and green environment. Natural resources on earth are depletable or non- depletable. Forests are also depletable resources and they can be protected for a sustainable ecosystem and green environment. The practice of massive deforestation defines the intervention of humans in the natural ecosystem without thinking about sustainable plans and necessary measurements that need to be followed. The aim of the article is to provide causes of deforestation and its harmful effects on species, humans, and ecosystem, also solutions for deforestation. This platform will provide all kinds of basic information and also updates related to the environment. We will utilize our resources to aware folk from the importance of the environment and meet the objectives of a clean and green environment because we care about the environment.