Deforestation is the destruction of a forest by man. Deforestation means people cut down trees to build towns and use the trees for goods like paper or agriculture.
Our forests are very important and deforestation can affect the ecosystem of the area and even areas away from the forest in many ways. There are many foundations, and companies looking to combat or help with deforestation and make sure our forests are protected. Here is more information on deforestation.
Importance of Forests
Forests have an important role in our ecosystem. They provide us and other living things with food, fuel, and fiber. They also produce clear air, filter water, control floods and erosion. Forests have a huge effect on biodiversity and allow us to learn and play.
Forest ecosystems are also virtual or necessary. Forest ecosystems are part of why the Earth can stay healthy. They are a defense against climate change. Forest ecosystems help remove greenhouse gases or air pollution and produce a lot of oxygen. They can even help control rising temperatures! These things keep our global climate in check and help keep it healthy.
Tropical rainforests like the Amazon Rainforest are a habitat of many animals, plants, bugs, and more. A single tree in the Amazon Rainforest can house thousands of species. We do not even truly understand the ecosystem within these forests.
The importance of trees is often not recognized. However, they offer shelter, produce the oxygen we need to breathe, and help keep the Earth healthy.
Interesting Facts About Forests
There are five biomes in the world. The biomes are aquatic, grassland, forest, desert, and tundra. There are three types of forest that exist on the globe. The forest types are temperate, tropical, and boreal. Global forest covers 31% of the world. More than 10,000 years ago 57% of Earth’s surface was covered in trees.
Forests help with the water cycle by helping control precipitation, evaporation, and water flow. The roots and branches store and release water vapor which controls rainfall. Forests also can help reduce floods from storms by stopping or slowing down runoff.
There are two types of rainforests, tropical and temperate. You’ll find tropical rainforests closer to the equator where it is warm. Temperate rainforests are near cooler coastlines further north and south of the equator. The rainforest is broken into 4 different layers. The emergent layer, canopy, understory, and forest floor, each layer is unique and has different levels of water, sunlight, and air circulation. Many species live within different layers as well.
What is Deforestation?
Deforestation removes trees to make room for new roads, buildings, and farms. Land clearing is happening at an alarming rate. As people cut trees it has a devastating effect on everything.
We often see deforestation in South America, North America, Central America, and Western Europe. Deforestation is a massive problem in tropical forests or rain forests. These are home to a lot of the world’s biodiversity. Biodiversity is when all different types of life (animals, plants, bugs, etc.) are found in one area. Primary forests are also at risk. Primary forests are forests growing for a long time and are very dense or heavy with tree coverage.
Nigeria has the world’s highest deforestation rate. In the last five years, it has cut down more than half of its forests. The current rate of deforestation is 10 million hectares per year. A hectare is 10,000 square meters. This statistic is from recent years (2015-2020). This is about 24,710,538.15 acres of trees cut. This number is down from the 1990s when the rate of deforestation was 16 million hectares.
Reasons for Deforestation
There are many reasons for deforestation. Some are responsible for more land clearing than others. One common reason is cattle ranching. The cattle need a place to graze and get rid of the trees. Subsistence farming is farming where the farmers are planting and harvesting just enough for their families and the needs of their neighbors. Since many of these farmers do not have the money to be a part of the bigger operations, they farm near access roads and use the slash and burn method for short-term farming. It does not seem like many trees, and it still has a huge effect on the forests.
The main cause of deforestation is logging. Logging is where people take down the trees for lumber or other goods. Many temperate rainforests are disappearing because of this. Many people have tried to stop it, but illegal logging is a business! People go into the forests and cut them down even when they are told they are not allowed.
Vegetable oil, palm oil, and soybean plantations are some of the biggest reasons for deforestation, and they account for ⅕ of tropical deforestation. The companies who make and sell these products are not just cutting down trees for places to plant the crops needed. They also cut down trees to make room for access roads, processing plants, and other parts required to run a business. All of this human activity really makes deforestation the problem it is today. Several industries clear and develop forested land for their purpose.
Forest fires also cause deforestation. If natural, there is not much we can do about it. However, many times forest fires are preventable. If a forest fire is started by a campfire, another man-made event, or even a natural event like lightning, it can wipe out more than 10 million acres of trees.
Effects of Deforestation
There are many consequences of deforestation. Forests help keep our air clean and help with climate change and global warming. As we cut down forests, the greenhouse gases, carbon emissions, and other harmful gases can build up and are causing a global crisis.
Deforestation is also causing a loss of habitat for many different animal species. When animals, plants, and insect species do not have a place to live this can cause them to look elsewhere. This causes them to get killed or even face wildlife extinction. This problem can cause entire ecosystems and food chains to collapse or fall apart.
Rain can cause soil erosion. If places receive heavy rains and have no trees to help keep the soil in place, mudslides and landslides are more likely. These can cause entire hillsides to disappear and bring anything from roadways to houses!
The indigenous people or people who have always lived within a certain region of the rainforest are being killed by deforestation. When people take their land and cannot use the natural resources to survive, they are forced to live on the side of the road or get help from the government.
Helping Stop Deforestation
The World Wildlife Fund has been working for over 50 years to help stop deforestation and help save our forests. The WWF works with the government, companies, communities, and others to practice responsible forest management practices. They are also working to stop illegal logging, help with trade policies, protect forests, and more.
The World Resources Institute is working to combat deforestation in many ways. WRI’s Forests Program helps converse or save and restore forests for biodiversity, carbon caption, water security, and wood supply. They work with governments, companies, and others to make sure forests are governed fairly and managed. WRI is using cutting-edge technology. They are continuing to look for new ways to help conserve forests and help restore devastated or ruined ecosystems.
Both of these foundations are working on large-scale efforts to help curve the effects of deforestation. They are finding ways to cut down fewer trees for products used by humans and help find ways to save our forests!
Quick Facts About Deforestation
Looking for some quick information on deforestation? Here are some quick facts.
- Chocolate and biscuits are a major reason for deforestation.
- If we continue to cut down forests at this rate, it will take less than 100 years to destory all the rainforests in the world.
- On average, 2400 trees get cut down per minute around the world.
- 1.6 billion people rely on forest products.
- On average, a person in the United States uses 700 pounds of paper a year.
- In 2020, more than 100 countries pledged to end and reverse deforestation by 2030
Although deforestation is still a huge problem, about half of the world’s cut-down forests are being replanted. There are many efforts to rebuild and regrow the vital ecosystems we need to help humans and the Earth survive. How can you help?