Essay on Deforestation

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Pages: 6

DEFORESTATION
Trees are one of the most important aspects of the planet we live in. Trees are vitally important to the environment, animals, and of course for us humans. They are important for the climate of the Earth, as they act as filters of carbon dioxide. Forests are known as habitats and shelters to millions of species. However, the trees on our planet are being depleted at a very fast rate. According to some estimates, more than 50 percent (Rainforest Facts, 2012) of the tree cover has disappeared due to human activity. This removal of forest or trees from a land and converting it for non-forest use is called deforestation. It is the permanent destruction of indigenous forests and woodlands

Forests are cut down for many reasons, but most of them are related to money or to people’s need to provide for their families. The biggest driver of deforestation is agriculture (shifting agriculture). Farmers cut forests to provide more room for planting crops or grazing livestock. Often many small farmers will each clear a few acres to feed their families by cutting down trees and burning them in a process known as “slash and burn” agriculture. Slash and burn methods are used for traditional agriculture. It is estimated that such practices result in the clearing of 15,000 ha of forest annually (Melrose, 2012). . Only a proportion of this however, is virgin forest. Most of the clearing is down on "recycled" land previously cleared for agriculture and subsequently re-grown. Increasing populations in some areas has shortened the fallow time of the land and it is being reused at a rate that is not sustainable, and will result in soil degradation. Simple changes in agricultural practices could make a big difference, for instance, the garden rows traditionally run up and down the hillside. This increases water run off which results in a loss of soil and nutrients. Changing to a horizontal system of rows would conserve water and nutrients.
There are many other causes of deforestation apart from agriculture: logging, mining, plantation, cattle ranching and firewood collection are all other examples of things that leads to deforestation. Logging operations which provides the world’s wood and paper products also cut countless trees each year to meet the high demand of the consumers. Commercial logging in tropical countries usually involves felling of trees of only selected species which fetch better prices. This process of creaming or removing a few selected trees amidst dense vegetation on rather a delicate soil causes much more destruction than the actual number of trees or the volume of timber taken out would suggest.
The effects of deforestation can be both local and global. In the local forest ecosystem, trees, water, soil, plants, and animals are all dependent on one another to keep healthy. When trees are cut this natural balance is upset and the important functions that trees perform such as holding the soil in place, protecting groundwater, and providing food and shelter for plants and animals cannot take place. Trees also provide a great deal of moisture which influences cloud formation. Ground temperature and the amount of sun-heat reflection vary with the amount and type of vegetation. This in turn has an effect on atmospheric convection currents. As a result of these influences the climate in heavily logged areas become drier and windier (Hurst 1990; Jones 1951).
Overcutting forests and the disruption of the forest ecosystem are causing erosion of soil, the drop in water tables, loss of biodiversity as plant and animal species become extinct, loss of soil fertility, and the silting up of many water bodies. When the process continues for a long period of time or over a large area there can be total environmental collapse. Parts of the world that are now desert, such as Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, were once covered with healthy forests.

Globally it is a major problem with serious consequences to the planet. These