Deforestation is the uprooting or destruction of massive portions of forests. Various reasons such as logging, agriculture, mining, natural disasters, and urbanization may lead to deforestation. These forests could be wiped out by either burning or clear-cutting the land.
The aftermath of deforestation is of long-term damage. A whole lot of insect and animal species disappear after they lose their habitat. Flooding is another catastrophic disaster that happens as a result of deforestation. Climate change and global warming are the significant hazards that come with the loss of precious forests. Reduced biodiversity is another deforestation concern.
The biggest victims of deforestation are the rainforests which cover only about 7 percent of the world’s surface. But this 7 percent houses almost half of all plant and animal species on earth which are crucial for our existence.
While natural disasters do have a hand in deforestation, humans have also been guilty of playing a role in this process. The reasons why humans resort to clearing forests are many. Here are a few:
Felling trees or logging in a forest to procure timber for wood, miscellaneous products, and fuel is a major reason for deforestation. There are multiple ways in which logging is detrimental. In order to access trees and transport timber, large equipment and trucks need to go into the forest. To make way for them the loggers have to clear large areas for roadways. The forest canopy or the upper layer of habitat formed by mature trees is a vital for the forest’s ecosystem. It acts as a housing and protector of plants, insects, and animals. It also shields the forest floor and helps in slowing down soil erosion.
Converting forests into agricultural plantation is yet another reason for deforestation. Global demand for commodities such as palm oil and soybean increasingly are instrumental in causing industries and manufacturers to clear large forest areas at a frightening pace to replace them with plantations. Attempts to re-cultivate the barren plantations fail to bring the same kind of biodiversity that the land once possessed.
With an influx in population, more and more forests are being cleared to accommodate cities, make houses and roads for their settlement. The flipside of urbanization is deforestation. Fifty percent of the world’s population now lives in cities.
Accidental and intentional fires, both demolish acres of forest very rapidly. The most susceptible areas for fires are the ones that are afflicted with logging mainly because of the dried and dead trees. Climate fluctuations like milder winters and longer warm seasons as a result of global warming also encourage fires.
Although dams contribute to supplying power to communities, they also contribute to deforestation. Damming has a negative impact on the environment as it also replaces the forest areas with large structures and roads, creating more access for loggers. Also, to construct a hydroelectric dam, acres of land need to be flooded which leads to decomposition and release of greenhouse gases. Local populations around the area reallocate to other places causing further deforestation in the locations they move to.
Digging lands for sourcing coal, diamond and gold requires the removal of the forests that layers the land, not only for the mines but also for the machinery and trucks that are required for the mining.
The devastating impacts of deforestation are surging at an enormous rate. However, we can make a difference in the movement to save forests. Making informed choices is the first step. Consuming less, avoiding single-use packaging, eating sustainable plant-based food, and choosing recycled and responsibly-produced wood products can make a huge impact on our attempts to save the forests. And last but not the least—be vocal of these choices so that you encourage people around you to do the same.