Deforestation is the clearing, destroying, or otherwise removal of trees through deliberate, natural, or accidental means. It can occur in any area densely populated by trees and other plant life, but the majority of it is currently happening in the Amazon rainforest.Deforestation or felling trees has become a favorite activity of man to extract assorted needs – be it medicines or precious paper to waste. For obvious reasons, it is shameful to read the statistics on how discriminating man has been, especially when it comes to deforestation… but in the end, there is always hope.Forests cover more than 30% of the Earth’s land surface, according to the World Wildlife Fund. These forested areas can provide food, medicine and fuel for more than a billion people. Worldwide, forests provide 13.4 million people with jobs in the forest sector, and another 41 million people have jobs related to forests. Forests are a resource, but they are also large, undeveloped swaths of land that can be converted for purposes such as agriculture and grazing. In North America, about half the forests in the eastern part of the continent were cut down for timber and farming between the 1600s and late 1800s, according to National Geographic. Today, most deforestation is happening in the tropics. Areas that were inaccessible in the past are now within reach as new roads are constructed through the dense forests.
One of the most dangerous and unsettling effects of deforestation is the loss of animal and plant species due to their loss of habitat. 70% of land animals and plant species live in forests. Not only does deforestation threaten species known to us, but also those unknown.
The trees of the rainforest that provide shelter for some species also provide the canopy that regulates the temperature. Deforestation results in a more drastic temperature variation from day to night, much like a desert, which could prove fatal for many inhabitants.
According to satellite data, tropical forests are being destroyed at a rate of about 8 million hectares (31,000 square miles) a year — an area equivalent in size to the state of South Carolina or the Czech Republic.
If the current rate of deforestation continues, it will take less than 100 years to destroy all the rainforests on the earth. The rate of deforestation equals the loss of 36 football fields every minute.There are more than 121 natural remedies in the rain forest, which can be used as medicines.According to the Rainforest Action Network, the United States has less than 5% of the world’s population yet consumes more than 30% of the world’s paper.The overexploitation of forests is making it extremely difficult to replant a new ecology.
Forests provide more than a home for a diverse collection of living things; they are also an important resource for many around the world. In countries like Uganda, people rely on trees for firewood, timber and charcoal. Over the past 25 years, Uganda has lost 63% of its forest cover, Reuters reported. Families send children — primarily girls — to collect firewood, and kids have to trek farther and farther to get to the trees. Collecting enough wood often takes all day, so the children miss school.
4500 acres of forests are cleared every hour by forest fires, bull dozers, machetes etc. Poverty, over-population and unequal land access are the main causes of man- made deforestation.1.6 billion people across the globe depend on forest products for their livelihoods there by adding more to deforestation.Almost half of world’s timber and up to 70% of paper is consumed by Europe, United States and Japan alone.There are more than 121 natural remedies in the rain forest which can be used as medicines.Industrialized countries consume 12 times more wood and its products per person than the non-industrialized countries. The United States has less than 5% of the world’s population but consumes more than 30% of the world’s paper.Agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation Fuel wood in sub Saharan African countries is consumed up to 200% times more than the annual growth rates of the trees. This is causing deforestation, lack of timber resources and loss of habitat for the species living in it. Trees are important constituents of the ecosystem by absorbing carbon.Worldwide more than 1.6 billion people rely on forests products for all or part of their livelihoods.Tropical forests, where deforestation is most prevalent, hold more than 210 gigatonnes of carbon.According to Forestry Department Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, about half the world’s tropical forests have been cleared or degraded.
Further effects of deforestation include soil erosion and coastal flooding. Trees help the land to retain water and topsoil, which provides the rich nutrients to sustain additional forest life.Without forests, the soil erodes and washes away, causing farmers to move on and perpetuate the cycle. The barren land which is left behind in the wake of these unsustainable agricultural practices is then more susceptible to flooding, specifically in coastal regions.
Despite their immense value, since the 1960s, nearly half of the world’s rainforests have been lost. Every day, about 81,000 hectares (200,000 acres) of rainforest — an area nearly 14 times the size of Manhattan — are burned around the world.
Deforestation is one of the main threats to the species living in the jungles of Borneo and Sumatra. But it isn’t the only threat. Poachers and wildlife smugglers, through the palm oil production, are easily accessible to the animals here. Orangutans are the real victims here. They’ve been found buried alive and attacked by machetes. In the last twenty years, over 50,000 orangutans have died through deforestation. Ninety percent of orangutan habitat has been destroyed. So many innocent lives have been taken. When parts of the rainforest are cleared, orangutans are left without food. In order to feed themselves, they have no choice but to enter nearby villages in search for food. As a result, mother orangutans are killed by poachers. And their babies are stolen from them and sold to wildlife parks or kept as pets.
Developing alternatives to deforestation can help decrease the need for tree clearing. For example, the desire to expand the amount of land used for agriculture is an attractive reason to deforest an area. But if people adopted sustainable farming practices or employed new farming technologies and crops, the need for more land might be diminished, according to the UN’s Sustainable Forest Management Toolbox. Forests can also be restored, through replanting trees in cleared areas or simply allowing the forest ecosystem to regenerate over time. The goal of restoration is to return the forest to its original state, before it was cleared, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The sooner a cleared area is reforested, the quicker the ecosystem can start to repair itself. Afterward, wildlife will return, water systems will reestablish, carbon will be sequestered and soils will be replenished. Everyone can do their part to curb deforestation. We can buy certified wood products, go paperless whenever possible, limit our consumption of products that use palm oil and plant a tree when possible.