Forests are collection of trees and other plants in some areas. They may range from populated wilderness to urban forests. They may also range from tropical rain forests to vast boreal forests. Approximately, 31% of land of the world is filled with forests. Forests have many benefits such as sequestering atmospheric carbon (Hollar 67), containing nearly 90% of the Earth’s biodiversity, providing home for wildlife, regulating water cycle, and providing many recreational and spiritual opportunities. Presently, five countries with most forest areas are Russia, Brazil, China, Canada, and the U.S. (Bengston and Michael 35).
On the other hand, deforestation is the process of removal of trees. It has been reported that 1.8 million square kilometers of forest in the world is converted into non-forest land between the year 2000 and 2012. South America, Africa, and Oceania are facing the largest loss of forest, whereas Europe and North America are facing modest or little change in the areas of forest. Asia is showing positive change in forest-covered areas (Bengston and Michael 35).
Many countries are working to reduce the issue of deforestation. Brazil was one of those countries, which have controlled deforestation. It has been reported that Brazil was able to reduce deforestation rate by more than three-quarters. Greenhouse gas emissions in Brazil had also been reduced by 39% between the year 2005 and 2010. However, after 2013 deforestation rate doubled. An important cause of deforestation is to develop cattle pasture. It has been estimated that about 78% of logging between 2011 and 2012 in Para state, which is Brazil’s largest timber producer, was illegal (Schiffman 46). It has been estimated that at the current rate of deforestation rain forests of the world would completely vanish in a century.
Reasons of Deforestation
Deforestation can occur due to many reasons ranging from natural to man-made such as earning money and supporting families. However, one of the biggest causes of deforestation is agriculture. Farmers use the land to plant crops after deforestation (Hollar 58). Farmers also cut down trees and burn them in a process referred to as “slash and burn” agriculture (Babin, Unesco, and CIRAD 454). People are also using the land for grazing after deforestation (Hollar 58).
It has been reported that tropical forests are facing an alarming rate of deforestation in order to meet the demands of vegetable oil, meat, and wood products. Vegetable oil such as palm oil is now used not only in cooking but also in many other products such as shampoo and cleaning products (Roquemore 10). In case of meat, a lot of land is required and cleared for meat production, especially beef (Roquemore 11). Provision of wood and paper products also need annual cutting of countless trees. These are known as logging operations. Loggers also build roads by cutting down forests, thereby resulting in more deforestation.
Deforestation is also caused by natural factors such as wildfires as well as overgrazing of animals, thereby preventing the growth of younger trees (Hollar 58).
Harmful Effects of Deforestation
Deforestation is causing a huge loss of beneficial aspects provided by nature. It can affect atmosphere resulting in increased pollution. It can also disturb water cycle. Deforestation results in loss of habitat of a huge number of species. It has been estimated that nearly 70% of animals and plants on land live in forests and they are unable to survive as a result of deforestation. It has to be considered that the current rate of extinction of animals is nearly thousand times more than the natural rate of extinction that is clearly showing human beings’ responsibility (Babin, Unesco, and CIRAD 62).
Deforestation is causing about 15% of global warming pollution. Moreover, this deforestation is also harming biodiversity while hurting the livelihoods of millions of people (Roquemore 10). Regarding meat, it has been estimated that cattle that are reared for their meat require nearly 60% of agricultural land of the world but produce less than 5% of the world’s protein and provide less than 2% of calories, therefore it can be said that beef is ecologically less productive (Roquemore 11) as compared to forests. Still meat production is one of the most important causes of deforestation.
According to a U.N. study, burning forests is the second biggest cause of greenhouse gases after fossil fuel combustion. It accounts for about 30% of carbon dioxide production (Schiffman 46). It has also been reported that nearly 17% of carbon-dioxide emissions in the world are caused by tropical deforestation and degradation of forests, which is more than transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions (Bengston and Michael 35).
Concluding Remarks and Forest-Friendly Strategies
Deforestation is one of the most important issues in the present world. It can result in a number of harmful effects. So, it is important to control deforestation with the help of governments, organizations, and consumers as deforestation is the result of political, ecological, economic, technological, and social processes and everyone has to work hard to control this problem.
Governments can make forest-friendly policies to reduce the process of deforestation. These policies may include strong agricultural policies to discourage any kind of development in forests or near forests. Organizations can help in reducing deforestation by following governmental policies. Consumers can help in reducing the process of deforestation by reducing the demand for vegetable oil-, beef-, and wood-made products as, for example, increasing the use of chicken as compared to beef can help in reducing deforestation as it requires 3-5 times less land as compared to beef. Moreover, use of recyclable papers can also help in reducing deforestation. Consumers can also help organizations, which are involved in the production of forest-friendly products. They can also help in controlling illegal cutting of trees.
Babin, D., Unesco, and CIRAD. Beyond Tropical Deforestation: From Tropical Deforestation to Forest Cover Dynamics and Forest Development. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 2004. Print.
Bengston, David, and Michael J. Dockry. "Forest Futures in the Anthropocene: Can Trees and Humans Survive Together?" The Futurist 2014: 34-39. Print.
Hollar, S. Poisoning Planet Earth: Pollution and Other Environmental Hazards. Britannica Educational Pub. association with Rosen Educational Services, 2011. Print.
Roquemore, Sarah. "Like Deforestation with Your Meal?" Union of Concerned Scientists 2012: 10-12. Print.
Schiffman, Richard. "Brazil’s Deforestation Rates Are on the Rise Again." Newsweek 2015: 46-49. Print.