The problem regarding deforestation effects countries around the world.
Deforestation is the removal of a forest and/or trees in which the empty land is converted for non-forest uses. The issue of deforestation is a serious problem here in the U.S and across the world. As of now, forests cover 30% of the Earth’s land and experts estimate that within 100 years there will be no rain forests left if we continue to remove forests and trees at the same rate.
The Importance of Trees:
Some may underestimate the importance of trees and even take them for granted.Trees create an ecosystem to provide a habitat and food for birds and other animals. Through the process of photosynthesis, trees absorb carbon dioxide and other harmful greenhouse gasses such as sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide from the air. In turn, they release oxygen. This oxygen is essential to human, animal, and other plant life. They are also considered natural filters or the lungs of the Earth because they absorb pollutants through their leaves. This idea of sequestering pollutants and filtering contaminants in the air helps “clean” the air we all breathe.
Causes of Deforestation:
- Farmland and Ranches
- The ever growing demand for farmland and ranches is the primary cause of deforestation.
- The demand for space to grow a variety of crops and house livestock causes companies to clear the land. With ample amount of space, they are able to mass-produce crop and animal products.
- Since the population is growing on an exponential scale, the number of houses needed to accommodate the large amount of people has increased with the population. Due to this increased need for space and overpopulation, forests are diminishing.
- Building Products/Logging
- Excessive quantities of wood is needed to construct houses and buildings.
- Natural Disasters
- Unfortunately, forest fires are natural causes to the depletion of forests.
The dry, arid climate in California is contributing to the increased number of forest fires in the state.
Since industrialized countries consume 12 times more wood and its products per person than the non-industrialized countries, they are mostly to blame for this severe issue. Among these industrialized countries, Russia, the United States, and Japan consume about half of the world’s timber.
Negative Effects of Deforestation:
At this rate, if deforestation is not slowed down or adequate solutions have been reached, the Earth will suffer immensely. Some of these negative effects include:
- Loss of biodiversity in the area
- Water cycle and Carbon cycle disturbances
- Loss of habitat for the animals/ indigenous people
- Soil erosion
- The diagram below demonstrates the issues associated with deforestation and soil erosion.
- Global warming
- Carbon dioxide emissions are no longer absorbed by trees
Environmental Crisis: The Amazon Rainforest
It is estimated that if deforestation rates do not slow, the remainder of the Earth’s rain forests will be diminished in approximately 100 years. One area that is currently suffering the consequences of deforestation is the Amazon Rainforest that covers primarily Brazil, Columbia, and Peru. The Amazon is known to be the Earth’s largest rain forest. It was once known to host a teeming ecosystem with exotic animals and plants. More than half of the world’s estimated 10 million species of plants, animals and insects live in the tropical rainforests and one-fifth of the world’s fresh water is in the Amazon Basin. Also, 20% of the world’s oxygen is produced by the Amazon. In addition, the sheer size of forest itself allows for large amounts of carbon dioxide absorption. Not only is the destruction of this natural beauty effecting the natural ecosystem and wildlife that inhabit the area, the indigenous people are facing the issue of relocating.
Skyrocketing in the 1990’s, deforestation of the Amazon rainforest accelerated significantly between 1991 and 2004. By 1995, 70% of formerly forested land in the Amazon had been converted for cattle ranching. Now, organization are working to help reverse these effects and stop companies from taking advantage of the natural space.
Things You Can Do to Help Fight Deforestation:
- Plant trees
- By planting even one tree on your property will not only help reverse the effects of deforestation, but also provide some shade to the area around it.
- Switch to paperless
- Companies today provide the feature to unsubscribe and switch to paperless. A few things that you can change in your daily routine includes switching over from paper newspapers or printed magazines to online versions on their websites. Some even opt to read books through an E-reader or Kindle. It is also common to do bills and bank online. By doing this, companies save both ink and paper. Even simple things such as taking notes on a computer as opposed to a notebook will help save paper.
- Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle paper products
World Wildlife Fund For Nature:
Founded in Switzerland, the WWF focuses on tackling some of the largest wildlife and nature crises facing the world today. Among them, deforestation has been a primary focus since the 1980’s.
The President and CEO of WWF discusses in the video above the importance of saving the Amazon and its indigenous species. A black Jaguar is one of the many species that lives in the Amazon and is at risk of endangerment.
There are so many environmental issues mankind is delegated to tackle. If not assessed in a timely fashion, the Earth will undergo a variety of negative processes and its inhabitants will struggle severely. Some effects are not even known to scientists. Deforestation is a problem the entire world must come together to fight. On the other hand, if you’re interested in more ways to get involved on a more personal level, visit the World Wildlife website linked here.