Report on Deforestation
Deforestation is defined as the
cutting down of trees in a large area, or the destruction of forests by people.
According to the World Resources Institute, more than 80 percent of the Earth’s
natural forests already have been destroyed (National Geographic). This is
observed in Brazil and Indonesia, where the world’s two biggest regions of rain
forests in these regions are being cut down at an alarming rate due to
activities such as logging and land clearing for agriculture. Deforestation is
a global problem to us and to the world. If this carries on, it will be
catastrophic. The purpose of this report is to explain the seriousness of
deforestation to the world and control measures. In particular, this report
will be zooming in on: the reasons for deforestation, environmental and
ecological impact of deforestation, impacts on climate change, solutions.
Causes of Deforestation
Deforestation happens almost all
around the world, but why is it happening? Firstly, it is to make more land
available for housing and agriculture. Due to the rapid growth in world
population, countries are finding it tough to find space to house their
citizens. There go the forests when governments permit the cutting of forests
to make way for houses and amenities. Slowly, rural areas in countries become
urban areas due to globalization and urbanization across many countries. In a
growing population, demand for food increases. In turn, food exports and
imports have skyrocketed over the years. Countries like Vietnam for example
depend on agriculture for food and income from food exports to other countries.
This led to an increasing demand for agricultural land. In areas like Ladang in
Indonesia and Mexico, slash and burn deforestation is common. This is a method
commonly used because it clears land quickly, so that agricultural land can be
prepared for the new wave of growing crops. Another reason for Slash and burn
deforestation is because the ashes are potential fertilizers for new crops.
Secondly, it is because of logging.
Trees are cut down because timber from logs can be made into materials such as
paper, wood, construction materials and furniture. These materials are useful
in building skyscrapers, cars and fighter planes. They are essential for building
infrastructure and this has driven a high demand to make logging a necessity to
this day. Many also often take advantage of illegal logging especially when governments
fail to enforce strict regulations on such acts. This has eventually led to a
rise in logging cases. For example, “Illegal logging contributes a large amount
to the overall deforestation of the Amazon with an average of 60-80% of all
logging activities in the forest considered to be illegal.” (Lefevre,2014). As
a result, the rise of logging has directly caused deforestation.
Effects of Deforestation
First of all, deforestation destroys
the habitats of many animal species. Animals native to that particular habitat
will lose their place of shelter and their source of food. The food chain in the
ecosystem will become imbalanced, thus affecting the consumers. Once, the
producer population decreases, other consumers at higher trophic levels will be
indirectly affected, and may eventually die due to lack of food source. The
destruction of animal habitats prompts them to seek shelter elsewhere by
migrating. Often, this puts its life in danger to predators or poaching. An
alien habitat would also put a threat to its life when its adaptation to a new
environment fails. For example, animal species such as the Northern Spotted Owl
in Western United States cannot survive in a secondary forest habitat but only
in their original habitat (Greentumble, 2015). Though humans are not at the
losing end by cutting down forests, animals are clearly adversely affected.
Additionally, deforestation causes
soil erosion. When plants are removed from land, there are no roots to hold the
soil together. This loose top layer soil becomes susceptible to erosion during
heavy rain when this top soil containing nutrients are washed downslope. These
essential nutrients for growing vegetation is washed away, leaving a dry and
nutrient-deficient soil that is unsuitable for healthy plant growth. Lose soil
also cannot retain water well, this would also lead to flooding and the washing
of nutrients into water bodies that may give rise to water pollution. The rich
nutrients in water bodies fuel the growth of an algae bloom that reduces oxygen
concentration in ponds and limit sunlight penetration to aquatic plants.
Impacts on climate
Tropical rainforests are the lungs
of the Earth. It plays an important role in the carbon cycle by removing carbon
dioxide in the atmosphere and release oxygen necessary for all life on Earth. When
forests are cut down and burnt, carbon is released back into the atmosphere in
the form of carbon dioxide. This contributes to an increase in greenhouse gases
that leads to enhanced global warming. According to Greenpeace, “Deforestation
has such a massive effect on climate change that Indonesia and Brazil are now the third
and fourth largest emitters of carbon dioxide on the planet”. Furthermore,
“up to 75 per cent of Brazil’s emissions come solely from deforestation – with
the majority coming from clearing and burning areas of the Amazon rainforest.”
Solutions and measures
One solution is reforestation, in which
trees are replanted in a specific area.. More trees would mean more carbon storages
to trap carbon-related compounds in the soil and the tree itself. This process
of reforestation is therefore a restorative measure of deforestation.
Next would be to enforce stricter
law and regulations. There are still people turning to illegal logging and this
is because of the lack of government enforcement and intervention. There is a
need for them to step up to authority to stop such human activities to reduce
the impact of deforestation on the environment. Negotiation and cooperation is
required to meet consensus between external companies and the government
because often both sides have different mindsets regarding the issue of deforestation.
For example, the company would see it as a way of profit but the government may
see it as a way to reduce carbon emissions. One example of regulation put into
effect is the European Union Timber Regulation which came into force on 3 March
2013. It prohibits operators in Europe from placing illegal harvested timber and
products derived from illegal timber on the European Union market.
Lastly would be collaboration with
joint organizations. These include collaboration with conservation, wildlife,
rainforest and nature protection agencies. No man is an island. Similarly, the
government itself cannot work alone to combat deforestation. Everyone needs to
work together with the same goal of preserving, protecting and restoring
forests for the better of our Earth. When more organizations work together, formulating
conservation and protection measures become easier. Little would we realize,
but a combined effort can bring a greater impact than one who works alone.
In conclusion, deforestation is a
serious problem not to be taken lightly. Appropriate measures are necessary to
combat this problem, but first everyone need to come to consensus to save our
earth. A common goal would mean something everyone can work towards to. The
fate of the world lies in our hands and it all starts now.