Deforestation

 

First of all, I would like to explain the word deforestation – what it means. Deforestation is the permanent destruction of forests in order to make the land available for other uses. Deforestation is considered to be one of the contributing factors to global climate change. An estimated 18 million acres  of forest, which is roughly the size of the country of Panama, are lost each year, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization.

Trees are cut down for many reasons, for example:

  • To be used, sold or exported as timber, wood or fuel
  • To be used for farming purposes
  • To make room for human settlement and urbanization
  • To make room for mining
  • Soy, palm oil and other crop plantations

The number one problem caused by deforestation is the impact on the global carbon cycle. Gas molecules that absorb thermal infrared radiation are called greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most prevalent greenhouse gas. In 2012, CO2 accounted for about 82 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas. The deforestation of trees not only lessens the amount of carbon stored, it also releases carbon dioxide into the air. This is because when trees die, they release the stored carbon. Deforestation releases nearly a billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere per year, though the numbers are not as high as the ones recorded in the previous decade. Deforestation is the second largest anthropogenic source of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, ranging between 6 percent and 17 percent.

I would like to talk about Amazonian deforestation because of the high pecantage of deforestation in this area. Even though Amazonia is not even in first 20 top deforestated areas. Since 1978 over 750,000 square kilometers  of Amazon rainforest have been destroyed across Brazil,Colombia, Bolivia, Peru,  Venezuela, Suriname, Guyana, and French Guiana.

Deforestation in the Amazon was primarily the product of subsistence farmers who cut down trees to produce crops for their families and local consumption. But in the later part of the 20th century, that began to change, with an increasing proportion of deforestation driven by industrial activities and large-scale agriculture. By the 2000s more than three-quarters of forest clearing in the Amazon was for cattle-ranching. The result of this shift is forests in the Amazon were cleared faster than ever before in the late 1970s through the mid 2000s.

Vast areas of rainforest were felled for cattle pasture and soy farms, drowned for dams, dug up for minerals, and bulldozed for towns and colonization projects. At the same time, the proliferation of roads opened previously inaccessible forests to settlement by poor farmers, illegal logging, and land speculators. But that trend began to reverse in Brazil in 2004. Since then, annual forest loss in the country that contains nearly two-thirds of the Amazon’s forest cover has declined by roughly eighty percent. The drop has been fueled by a number of factors, including increased law enforcement, satellite monitoring, pressure from environmentalists, private and public sector initiatives, new protected areas, and macroeconomic trends. Nonetheless the trend in Brazil is not mirrored in other Amazon countries, some of which have experienced rising deforestation since 2000.

In Brazil in 1970 was total forest loss 98, 400 square kilometres, in 2000 was the number of the forest loss much higher and the number was already 575,903 square kilometres. Year by year the loss is bigger and bigger, in 2015 the total forest loss was 768, 935 square kilometres. The number of deforestated area is almost 8 times higher than it was in year 1970. These numbers are just the deforestation of Amazonia in Brazil. Brazil holds about one-third of the world’s remaining rainforests, including a majority of the Amazon rainforest. Terrestrially speaking, it is also the most biodiverse country on Earth, with more than 56,000 described species of plants, 1,700 species of birds, 695 amphibians, 578 mammals, and 651 reptiles.

10 most deforestated countries in the world are:

  1. Honduras
  2. Nigeria
  3. The Philippines
  4. Benin
  5. Ghana
  6. Indonesia
  7. Nepal and North Korea
  8. Ecuador and Haiti

One of the easy ways how to combat the deforestation is to plant a tree. Personally I think that this is not helping to solve the problem of the deforestation. If we plant one tree, other three trees are cut down. What could help are the companies which are using the trees.

When companies have the power to destroy the world’s forests, they also have the ability to help save them. Companies can make an impact by introducing “zero deforestation” policies that clean up their supply chains. That means holding their suppliers accountable for producing commodities like timber, beef, soy, palm oil and paper in a way that does not fuel deforestation and has a minimal impact on our climate. Companies should set ambitious targets to maximize the use of recycled wood, pulp, paper and fiber in their produts.

Donáta Čepčeková

References:

http://www.livescience.com/27692-deforestation.html

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/Deforestation/deforestation_update3.php

http://rainforests.mongabay.com/amazon/amazon_destruction.html

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