What is Deforestation?
Forests play a major role in keeping our oceans, streams, rivers and lakes healthy. Forests are large tracts of land covered with trees and undergrowth. Statistics show that more than 1.6 billion people depend on trees for food and fuel. Healthy trees provide us with shelter, jobs, oxygen, water and food. That’s why it’s important to preserve trees instead of cutting them down.
What is deforestation?
Deforestation is the clearing, cutting, and removal of forests and other related ecosystems. Research shows that deforestation is one of the biggest problems facing global land use. It has a fundamentally negative impact on natural biodiversity, ecosystems, and climate.
What are the causes of deforestation?
1. Expansion of agriculture
According to statistics, agriculture is responsible for about 80 percent of deforestation. Farmers cut down trees to gain more land for farming and to meet the high demand for food. In addition, companies are clearing forests for livestock.
2. Climate change
Climate change is one of the main causes of deforestation. Some extreme weather events, including droughts, wildfires, tropical storms, and heat waves, contribute significantly to global warming. Global warming is the increase in the Earth’s surface as a result of greenhouse gases.
3. Timber harvesting
Wood processing industries such as matches, paper, and furniture require a significant amount of wood. According to research, about 380,000 hectares of forest are cut down to meet the high demand for wood and wood products.
Mining in forests is increasing due to the ever-increasing demand for minerals. Large-scale mining is an intensive undertaking that can lead to long-term soil degradation. This is because industrial facilities and infrastructure damage forests. Trees thrive in fertile soils. Soil depleted by pollution therefore doesn’t provide a breeding ground for trees, leading to deforestation.
What impact does this have on the planet?
a. Soil erosion and flooding
Coastal flooding and soil erosion are the main impacts of deforestation. Trees play an important role in retaining water and topsoil, which support continued life in the forest. Deforestation exposes soil to various types of erosion, such as sheet, slab, rill, gully, and wind erosion.
b. Loss of habitat
One of the main effects of deforestation is the loss of plant and animal species. Plants and animals depend on forests for food, shelter, and habitat. Forests also regulate temperatures to sustain various animal species. Deforestation can lead to the extinction of known and unknown species.
c. Increased greenhouse gases
Healthy trees play a remarkable role in absorbing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. This shows that forests are valuable carbon sinks. Deforestation leads to global warming, which increases greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These gases can damage the ozone layer.
d. Food Insecurity
Most people, especially in developing countries, rely on forests as a source of food and fuel. Forests increase food production by maintaining soil quality, providing habitat, regulating climate, and providing food for a variety of species that help with production. Deforestation affects the climate and thus lowers the rate of production.
What can we do to prevent this?
I. Practise eco-forestry
Eco-forestry can be defined as a restorative method of forest management. According to research, it doesn’t depend on economic productivity. Some trees are selectively harvested without causing damage to other trees in the surrounding area.
II. Planting Trees
Planting trees is the most effective strategy to combat deforestation. Planting and maintaining trees can be considered a lifetime investment. Trees absorb greenhouse gases and thus combat global warming.
III Reducing the consumption of firewood
About 2 billion people depend on firewood to cook and heat their homes. Forests around the world are suffering from the high demand for fuelwood. Currently, there are sustainable fuel sources that can help conserve forests.
Deforestation can lead to soil erosion, flooding, food insecurity, habitat loss, and increased greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, it’s high time for people to plant trees and reduce the use of firewood to combat deforestation.
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