Defining Facts about Deforestation
Deforestation is the permanent removal, destruction, and clearing of forest and woodlands on a large scale which results in damage to land quality, and most important, causes an environmental impact that will result in climate, water cycle, and land changes. These changes will have a vast effect on our way of life in the near and distant future if not addressed in the present.
Reasons for Deforestation
- Commercial logging of trees and derived charcoal are often sold as commodity for human uses.
- Cleared land is used as pasture for livestock grazing and for plantation of commodities and agriculture and crop cash.
- Removal of forests and woodlands occur for purposes of human settlement and development.
Consequences of Deforestation
Land and water changes:
- Soil erosion – forest canopies make ground soils moist, but with the loss of trees used as canopied shade, soil dries out which results in soil and vegetation loss.
- Water cycle change – dried land surface causes changes in water courses and changes in the quantity of water aboveground and underground as well as in the atmosphere
Enhanced greenhouse gas emissions:
Trees and other plantation remove carbon in the form of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. During the decay or burning of wood, however, the stored carbon is released back into the atmosphere in the form of greenhouse gases which have a large effect on climate change. Tropical deforestation is known to cause approximately 20% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Animal and species extinction:
Millions of species depend on forests and woodlands for habitat. In fact, more than half of the world’s species are found in forest and woodland areas. With deforestation, many of these species will no longer be able to survive.
An area of forest or woodland equal to the size of 20 football fields is lost every minute and with that are all the consequences that come along with deforestation. Therefore, efforts need to be made to control the problems caused by deforestation.
The only surefire way to control some of the issues that arise as result of deforestation is to simply stop the cutting of forest and woodlands; though, that is not ideal as there are a lot of benefits of wood and cleared space. With that said, however, limits need to be put on the amount of deforestation that takes place. Also, with the amount of deforestation should be an equal amount of replanting in order to insure we keep our environment unharmed any more than it already is.
Here are a number of things you can do to help the environment recuperate from the effects of deforestation:
- Conserve by using wood sparingly – for example, stop using wood burning fireplaces and stoves and instead switch to gas or electric.
- Use bamboo wood – bamboo grows and is able to be replaced rapidly; therefore, bamboo wood is more environmentally friendly.
- Support efforts to replant – replanting can be done on a personal or group level. Any replanting is good replanting, but consider putting together a group (such as a school or community project) to collect money; then either use that money to send to an environmental agencies known to replant forest lands or use the money to buy trees and have a volunteer replanting day.
- Do your part - Write to your municipality to ask them to restrain from cutting down forest and woodland areas.
- Spread the word - Tell your friends about the effects of deforestation and what they can do to help.
In short, we will never be able to stop the cutting down of forests and woodlands, but efforts must be made to compensate for the damage we create with deforestation. And, the first step is being aware of the problem at hand.