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Causes and Impacts of Deforestation

1781 words (7 pages) Essay in Environmental Studies

18/05/20 Environmental Studies Reference this

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Most of the world, at one point in time, has been affected by deforestation. Each area has been affected in a unique way, whether that be more significant or less. Some causes of deforestation are not only man made, but some causes are natural, for example wildfires. Earth and its ecosystem is filled with many different things, and in order for the earth to sustain a stable ecosystem, we need biodiversity. As we continue to lose species we are affecting biodiversity and in the end we are affecting our ecosystem. Currently we are going through the sixth largest mass extinction in earth’s history. Both rare and common species have been lost. Not only are species being lost, but deforestation is also threatening the discoveries of medical cures and remedies. Forests also have a major involvement in cycles that make life possible. Deforestation can cause these cycles to be thrown off, resulting in major changes that will affect everything. According to ‘National Geographic’ if we were to continue deforestation at the rate that we are currently going, “The world’s rain forests will vanish within 100 years” [1]. If we minimize or stop man made deforestation and prepare ourselves more for natural deforestation, at this point in time, we will be able to minimize the amount of damage that happens to animals, the environment and us as individuals.

 According to ‘World Wildlife’ there are a couple of man-made causes of deforestation that are the most common and devastating, one being illegal logging.[2] Generally, when people are illegally logging they are doing so because, the areas in which they are cutting, are under protection. As they continue to do this they will threaten some of the world’s most valuable forests, like the rainforests in the Amazon. Fuelwood harvesting is another cause, but it is essentially  the exact same thing as illegal logging, the only difference is the use of the wood after being cut. Not only is illegal logging, and fuelwood harvesting  a major factor in causing deforestation but mining is also a factor. The wood that is cut from the forests are used for charcoal to fuel pig iron plants, resulting in deforestation that spreads up to 6,100 km. Not only are there man-made causes, but there are also natural causes. One example of a natural cause of deforestation are wildfires, they can occur extremely quickly and they can stretch through a forest, and destroy everything in its path and they will continue to grow. Wildfires are also extremely difficult to get under control for example, the McMurray wildfire. It took fire officials  a very long time to get that fire under control. Another example of natural deforestation is drought, this can also be induced by man-made deforestation but it is commonly naturally caused. Droughts can weaken the forests system so badly that it can cause a wildfire to occur. Droughts weaken canopy plants by reducing the humidity levels, and the amount of rain that they get. Also if the drought lasts long enough it can kill decomposers by drying out the leaf litter which in the end reduces the effectiveness of the nutrient cycle.

1.6 billion people rely on the benefits that forests offer us, including food, traditional medicine, and shelter. Sadly forests around the world are now under threat due to deforestation, which is jeopardizing the benefits. Some of these forests that are under threat of deforestation are, Latin America, the Caribbean and Sub-Saharan Africa. They lost 970,000 square kilometres of forest between 1990 and 2015, this was the biggest decrease in forest area during that time.[3] Also most of the forest in Eastern Africa are overharvested, converted in order to raise livestock and cash crops or they are illegally logging. The coastal forests of Tanzania and Kenya have already been reduced by at least 10 percent of its original size, and deforestation will cause that percentage to increase. The Amazon is not one, but the world’s largest forest. More than one-quarter of this region will no longer consist of forest if the deforestation is consistent. The Atlantic/Gran chaco is classified as being one of the richest rainforests in the world, there is more biodiversity in The Atlantic forest than there is in the Amazon. This region however is where 75 percent of the Brazilian population is currently located, which is currently putting a lot of pressure on the forests. The deforestation that is happening in the neighboring forest Gran Chaco is being done in order to convert the forestland to cropland. Cerrado is another rainforest that is located in Brazil, but it is not as well known as the Amazon. However this rainforest is being threatened just as much as the Amazon, due to cattle ranching and the conversion of  the forest to soy plantations. If the current rate of deforestation continues, most of the forests and woodland that is located in Cerrado that are not within the protected areas will disappear by 2030. In addition New Guinea and its neighboring islands are home to more than 6 percent of the world’s species, but they too face an increasing deforestation threat that is caused by agriculture. The speed of deforestation could rise if the agricultural development proposals are approved. There are several more forests around the world that are under threat, that are going to be in the exact same situation that these forests above are under. Based on this information every forest that is not under protection, and even some that are supposed to be protected, have the chance to be under threat of deforestation, some more severe than others.

Forests are home to the most diverse species on earth. Almost 80 percent of the world’s species are found in tropical rainforests, which are the forests that are being threatened the most. When the forests are cut down animals lose their homes which causes them to be more vulnerable to hunters and poachers. This can and will cause the number of animals to diminish which can lead to animals going extinct. Biodiversity of our ecosystems is also important to all of us as individual people. Not only do we appreciate the beauty that biodiversity gives us, but we also enjoy having, shade, greenery and being in an environment that is aesthetically pleasing . The big question that we as a society have to think about is, what would our community look like if we didn’t have any trees? Although, there are more important uses of trees than just the beauty of them, there are also factors that influence our health. Trees play a large role in absorbing greenhouse gases, which means that the more greenhouse gases there are, the more likely global warming will happen. In other words, the less trees there are the more greenhouse gases enter our atmosphere. As mentioned before, wildfires can be extremely devastating. The McMurray wildfire was the most recent wildfire that has happened in Canada. The fire began on May 1st, 2016, and forced more than 80,000 people to evacuate their homes because the fire was spreading at an extremely fast rate. It took fire officials months to get this fire under control, and it was believed to be officially out on august 2 2017. After words there was roughly$3.8 billion in insured damage left behind.

Deforestation is an issue that is rapidly increasing, and is something that needs to be placed under control in order to prevent serious consequences from happening. There are several causes of deforestation some being man-made and some being natural. By minimizing man made deforestation and preparing ourselves for more natural causes of deforestation, we can lesson the damage on animals, the environment, and on us as individuals.The impact of deforestation on the environment, people and animals, can be serious and even deadly. There is a possibility that we would be able to reduce the amount of damage that happens to our forests if we are more prepared to handle natural cause, and if we try to minimize man-made causes. But this is something that will not be fixed overnight, it will be a process that takes time in order for it to be fixed.

Bibliography


[1]  Reference , “Deforestation and its Effects on the Planet” National Geographic, July 25, 2017

[2]  Publisher unknown “Deforestation,” World Wildlife,

[3] Kirk, Ashley, “Deforestation: Where is the world losing the most trees?,” The Telegraph, March 23, 2016,

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