Deforestation- Causes, Effects and Solutions

In general, deforestation is clearing Earth’s forests on a massive scale, often resulting in damage to the quality of the land. Sometimes the people didn’t realize, that they produce vital oxygen and provide homes for people and wildlife. Many of the world’s most threatened and endangered animals live in forests, and 1.6 billion people rely on benefits forests offer, including food, fresh water, clothing, traditional medicine and shelter. Forests are cut down for many reasons, but most of them are related to money or to people’s need to provide for their families. The biggest driver of deforestation is agriculture. Farmers cut forests to provide more room for planting crops or grazing livestock. Often many small farmers will each clear a few acres to feed their families by cutting down trees and burning them in a process known as “slash and burn” agriculture. So we can say, that deforestation has many negative effects on the environment. The most dramatic impact is a loss of habitat for millions of species. Seventy percent of Earth’s land animals and plants live in forests, and many cannot survive the deforestation that destroys their homes. The quickest solution to deforestation would be to simply stop cutting down trees. Though deforestation rates have slowed a bit in recent years, financial realities make this unlikely to occur.
Deforestation is a particular concern in tropical rainforests because these forests are home to much of the world’s biodiversity. For example, in the Amazon around 17% of the forest has been lost in the last 50 years, mostly due to forest conversion for cattle ranching. Deforestation in this region is particularly rampant near more populated areas, roads and rivers, but even remote areas have been encroached upon when valuable mahogany, gold and oil are discovered. Deforestation or felling trees has become a favourite activity of man to extract assorted needs- be it medicines or precious paper to waste. For obvious reasons, it is shameful to read the statistics on how discriminating man has been, especially when it comes to deforestation. But at the end there is always hope. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), an estimated 18 million acres of forest are lost each year.
Forests still cover 30% of the earth’s land, due to it is estimated that within 100 years there will be no rainforests. One and a half acres of forest is cut down every second. Loss of forests contributes between 12 percent and 17 percent of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. If the current rate of deforestation continues, it will take less than 100 years to destroy all the rainforests on the earth. The rate of deforestation equals to loss of 20 football fields every minute. There are more than 121 natural remedies in the rain forest which can be used as medicines. According to Rainforest Action Network, the United States has less than 5% of the world’s population yet consumes more than 30% of the world’s paper. The over exploitation of forests is making it extremely difficult to replant a new ecology. As we know, twenty percent of the world’s oxygen is produced in the Amazon forest. Up to 28,000 species are expected to become extinct by the next quarter of the century due to deforestation. Deforestation has considerably stopped in places like Europe, Pacific, North America and some parts of Asia due to lack of agricultural land. But the fact is, that half of the world’s tropical forests has already been cleared. 4500 acres of forests are cleared every hour by forest fires, bull dozers, machetes etc. Poverty, over-population and unequal land access are the main causes of man- made deforestation. The total world forest loss till date is 7.3 million hectares per year. 1.6 billion people across the globe depend on forest products for their livelihoods there by adding more to deforestation. Almost half of world’s timber and up to 70% of paper is consumed by Europe, United States and Japan alone. Industrialized countries consume 12 times more wood and its products per person than the non-industrialized countries. The United States has less than 5% of the world’s population but consumes more than 30% of the world’s paper. Fuel wood in sub Saharan African countries is consumed up to 200% times more than the annual growth rates of the trees. This is causing deforestation, lack of timber resources and loss of habitat for the species living in it.

I have mentioned some facts, that are caused by deforestation, or we can say, by us, humans. Many of people didn’t realize, that trees are important constituents of the ecosystem. They absorb carbon (tropical forests, where deforestation is most prevalent, hold more than 210 giga-tonnes of carbon) and groundwater and release the same into the atmosphere during transpiration. Soil erosion, floods, wildlife extinction, increase in global warming, and climate imbalance are few of the effects of deforestation. Worldwide more than 1.6 billion people rely on forests products for all or part of their livelihoods. According to Forestry Department Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, about half the world’s tropical forests have been cleared or degraded. Deforestation affects also water cycle. So why should we do this? Why should we cut the trees, when it has these horrible causes, and we know it very well? When deforestation happens, the climate automatically changes to a drier one and also affects the water table. My personal statement is, that we can always find some starting point. For example, there are corporations, that collect money online to save trees. One can save up to 20 square feet of forest with online contributions thereby conveniently prevent deforestation. Over 4 million tons of junk is created online by spamming. 41 pounds of these junk mails are sent to almost every adult in the United States. 44% of the junk mail goes unopened. People in America spend more than 275 million dollars to dispose junk mails. The paper industry is fourth largest in producing greenhouse gas thereby majorly contributing to deforestation. On an average, a person in the United States uses more than 700 pounds of paper every year. A lot of paper and cardboard is used unnecessarily for packing. This also means more tree felling. The solution will be, to re-use paper and plastic bags to discourage deforestation. Use canvas or paper bags as another alternative. Pick products which require less packaging. Be creative and mail manufacturers telling them to use eco-friendly products. Show them your deforestation knowledge by highlighting certain important facts using statistics. Sign effective petitions that work and help reduce deforestation. Support eco-friendly companies by buying their products that promise more durability in an inexpensive way. Be active and plant trees- it can be at your homes, backyards or you can join any organization keen on stopping deforestation. Reduce the consumption of beef to tone down the pressure to clear more forests for the cattle. Boycott companies by supporting organizations that care about the environment at the cost of fighting back for the evergreen trees. Seek knowledge on deforestation and how can you prevent it from happening by reading newspapers, magazines, internet, TV shows. Spread the word and make it go viral. There is always hope for better us, and also for better planet, with less of damages.


Natália Cirjaková


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