The word deforestation is used to describe the process of cutting down and burning the trees in forest and woodland and converting the land to other use. It also means that the nature of trees have changed, such as replacing slow growing native trees with fast growing woods which means that the precious eco-system of the forest into less bio-diverse ecosystems such as pasture, cropland, plantations and removal of rainforest. Forests still cover about 30 percent of the Earth’s surface, but each year about 13 million hecters of forest (approximately 78,000square miles) are converted to agricultural land or cleared for other purposes.
There are two key issues that surround deforestation. Trees absorb CO2, helping to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Carbon is one of the key causes of global warming and reducing these gases will help to slow and stop the greenouse effect.
The other issue is that trees are often cleared and burned. The wood from the trees is simply destroyed and not put to any positive use. The burning of the wood releases carbon into the atmosphere, and releasing harmful greenhouse gases, yet reducing the number of trees that would have helped to remove this from the atmosphere. It also contributes to global warming tropical deforestation for about 20 percent of all greenhouse gases and has an important impact on the global economy.
Rainforest Action Network (RAN) campaigns for the forests, their inhabitants and the natural systems that sustain life by transforming the global marketplace through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action. RAN estimates that 90 percent of the rainforest is already gone.
Causes of Deforestation.
Some of the most common causes of deforestation are globalization, urbanization, overpopulation and climate. Trees are being cut down for construction purpose, lands are cleared for growing crops and trees are also used as firewood.
Globalization in many countries has lead to deforestation as many industries and factories are build which emit carbon dioxide which affect the trees and forest. India and china are a big example. China being a big market for producing and supplying many products in various parts of the world for which trees and forest are used to produce product.
Urbanization also leads to deforestation as the country develops the cutting down of trees for the use of building materials, furniture, paper products and material used for highway and roads. Forests are also cleared in order to accommodate expanding urban areas. They are cut down in order to create land for grazing cattle and for growing crops. Trees are also cut down in developing countries to be used as firewood or turned into charcoal, which are used for cooking and heating purposes.
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Overpopulation also causes an increase in population also means an increase in produce consumption for which the trees are being destroyed. The basic needs being shelter and food are given with the help of forests for which an optimum amount of consumption and production is needed. Overpopulation in countries like China and India are a result where deforestation rate is higher than comparative countries.
Climate is also one factor for deforestation mainly acid rain. Climate not only affect the people but also trees, roads and small plants. Trees are also harmed by acid rain. Scientists say that acid rain damages the waxy outer coating that protects the leaves. When this happens, it allows the acid to seep into the tree. Instead of water changing from a liquid to a gas inside the leaves, gas is taking the place of the water. This prevents the plant from taking in carbon dioxide to perform photosynthesis, and the plant eventually dies. Global warming is another factor as the temperature increases than the average temperature which affects the plants growth or soil growth.
Effects of Deforestation.
The effects of deforestation are mainly causing our environment worse, such as soil erosion, biodiversity impacts and social effects.
Immediate effects of deforestation include the washing away of soil in the monsoon season. This is because trees are no longer anchoring and binding the soil and so mud slides take place. The earth is leached of minerals by the large amounts of water. The lack of vegetation also means that there will be very few animals in the area. Most of nutrients are stored in the vegetation and the trees, so if these factors getting bad cycle, our eco-system will be destroyed. Once the tree and plant are cut down, essential nutrients separate easily and are washed out by rainfall. Thus, we would lose the nutrients for our body needs for daily life. If the soil gets dries and cracks under the sun’s heat without the shade of the trees, we can’t grow any plants since it’s lost the soil elements. According to the statistics, nearly 80% of tropical forest soil is now infertile, and they will cause more and more bad eco-system which will effects the animals who live there and their habitats. It may change their genetic as well.
Although tropical forests cover only about 7 percent of the Earth’s dry land, they probably harbor about half of all species on Earth. Many species are so specialized to microhabitats within the forest that they can only be found in small areas. Their specialization makes them vulnerable to extinction. In addition to the species lost when an area is totally deforested, the plants and animals in the fragments of forest that remain also become increasingly vulnerable, sometimes even committed, to extinction. The edges of the fragments dry out and are buffeted by hot winds; mature rainforest trees often die standing at the margins. Cascading changes in the types of trees, plants, and insects that can survive in the fragments rapidly reduces biodiversity in the forest that remains. People may disagree about whether the extinction of other species through human action is an ethical issue, but there is little doubt about the practical problems that extinction poses. First, global markets consume rainforest products that depend on sustainable harvesting: latex, cork, fruit, nuts, timber, fibers, spices, natural oils and resins, and medicines. In addition, the genetic diversity of tropical forests is basically the deepest end of the planetary gene pool. Hidden in the genes of plants, animals, fungi, and bacteria that have not even been discovered yet may be cures for cancer and other diseases or the key to improving the yield and nutritional quality of foods-which the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization says will be crucial for feeding the nearly ten billion people the Earth will likely need to support in coming decades. Finally, genetic diversity in the planetary gene pool is crucial for the resilience of all life on Earth to rare but catastrophic environmental events, such as meteor impacts or massive, sustained volcanism.
Social Effects of Deforestation.
Deforestation has so many social effects on our society its impact not only affects us humans but also plants, animals and the surrounding environment. Deforestation causes and forces the surrounding to adapt in order to survive such difficult situations.
Indigenous people who consider the forests, as their primary habitats are rendered homeless when forests are depleted; we have seen the rise of this in mostly undeveloped areas where we have so many people using the forest as their primary habitat. The people living in this areas are forced to move while their surrounding’s are being altered. The cutting down of forest trees forces the people living around such areas to move and seek shelter elsewhere.
People and Animals who live in the rainforest areas depend on their natural environment; People living in these areas close to the forest usually depend on their natural environment for basic things like food, shelter, water etc. Cutting down the trees in those areas usually have a tendency to affect all the living things surrounding those areas. Forcing all living things to migrate and look for another conducive atmosphere.
Social conflicts and struggles over land and other recourses; Usually as a result of lost of lands the people living there have to migrate to other places in search of land and resources and most of the time it usually leads to conflicts. Everyone will be fighting to own the most conducive atmosphere to live in. The little resources left will be fought over.
Overview Of Worldwide Deforestation.
Every day hundred thousands of trees are cut down all over the world to use the timber as a major source of fuel, building material, and paper products. Urbanization has forced man to acquire huge forest areas. As population grows, the need for agricultural land has also increased over the years. Deforestation has so many negative consequences on the environment. One of the most immediate effects is the loss of habitat of many species of animals. Thus, deforestation can alter the earth’s biodiversity making a lot or rare species even more extinct. Deforestation also plays a major role in global warming and its also responsible to the contribution of up to 20 percent of the total greenhouse gases emitted. Trees play a major role in absorbing most of the green house gases like carbon dioxide. As lots of trees are cut down, the concentration of the green houses gases in the atmosphere increases, thus increasing the temperature of the earth. Another direct consequence of deforestation is Increased soil erosion, this can also lead to unnatural floods and droughts. Clearing forests can disrupt the normal water flow thus causing abnormal floods and droughts. Plants absorb water through roots that are then released into the atmosphere, which forms clouds and rains.
Solution to Deforestation.
Reforestation: In most parts of the world due to public awareness there have been new development that enforces reforestation and we have seen some major changes especially in countries around Asia.
Legislation: Due to new laws and regulations passed we have also seen a huge developments new trees have been planted and old trees are not allowed to be cut down. If this continues there might be a chance to stop deforestation and reverse the whole process completely.
Wildlife Sanctuaries: Sanctuaries are very important, not only to save wildlife, but to save trees as well. Sanctuaries go a long way in protecting all wildlife.
Cities: All cities, let alone new cities, have to be managed properly. The new projects need to be controlled and planned accordingly making sure new trees are planted in the process.
Commercial Forest Plantations: There can be special forest plantations for all the wood that is needed for the industry. This way the wood can be cut in a controlled and regulated environment.
Water Management: Improper water management affects deforestation in a big way. If the wildlife doesn’t have water, then the entire ecosystem will falter. The construction of new dams should be planned properly, so that any one area isn’t deprived of water, and the other area has abundance of it.
The Tree Of Hope.
Haiti is one of the developing countries and nearly 70 percent of the Haitians depend on agricultural sector.Extreme soil erosion and deforestation mean that Haiti’s environment is one of the most devastated in the world. Only 30 percent of the land is suitable for cultivation, with the result that the majority of the rural population have anxious struggle for survial. Forests used to cover over nine tenths of Haiti: now only 1-2 per cent remains densely forested. Artist Relief Funds took the initiative to restore Haiti’s forest and educate local community about the overwhelming effect of deforestation on the land and the economy. The project involves working in deforested areas with local residents in Haiti, farmers who are promoting economic sustainable development in the region through reforestation, environmental education, and wetland restoration.
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There is some hope. Projects with solar-powered ovens reduce the need to cut the trees for fuel. Crops best suited for poorer soils is being introduced. People are being educated that how deforestation leads to environmental and economic hardships. Some reforestation projects are under way. But all these will need to take hold and spread like wild fire if major changes are to take place.
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http://darwin.bio.uci.edu/~sustain/issueguides/TimberCert/deforest/index.html [Accessed 2 march 2011]
http://www.birdlife.org/eu/EU_policy/Biofuels/eu_biofuels2.html [Accessed 1 march 2011]
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/nov/13/brazil-amazon-deforestation-climate-change-copenhagen [Accessed 2 march 2011]
http://meatthefacts.org/wp/category/deforestation/ [Accessed 1 march 2011]
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