Deforestation is an issue that has plagued the earth for centuries, ever since humans began to venture into nature and claim its land as their own. It is imperative that we understand how deforestation happens, its effects, and how to resolve this environmental issue.
Deforestation is the result of logging, agriculture, and urbanization without consideration for its long-term effects. When we build new homes or erect impressive skyscrapers, we often think about humans reaping the benefits of new land while neglecting the world around us. In reality, by only taking without replanting an equal number of trees, we have decimated forests around the world. At current rates, 80,000 acres of forests are getting destroyed each day. Over time, this has resulted in 80% of forests being destroyed. The apparent negligence of the health of trees can lead to a large ripple effect that affects the entire world.
Whenever trees are cut down, the entire environment is harmed. Primary consumers that depend on these trees for shelter and food no longer have access to these resources. In turn, predators that rely on said mammals for nutrition also suffer a blow in population. As shown, deforestation is not simply the removal of a plant, it is the slow and systematic destruction of an entire ecosystem. In fact, in recent years numerous species have gone extinct due to deforestation. For example, current species endangered due to deforestation include the giant panda, mountain gorilla, and the Javan rhinoceros. With 80% of land animals living in forests, it is unsettling to think about the future of forest wildlife. Alongside these native animals, millions of indigenous peoples also live in forests, relying on the trees for shelter and tools. Deforestation forces them to leave their homes and often enter a cycle of poverty. Therefore, it must be kept in mind that both animals and humans suffer from deforestation.
Moving beyond the confines of the forest, deforestation can also contribute to a decrease in agricultural production and global warming. Although forests are often cleared for agricultural purposes, the removal of trees actually decreases agricultural efficiency. Because of the lack of trees, less water is circulated to the area, causing that land to become dry, arid, and unsuitable for growing crops. In extreme cases, this can even lead to the formation of deserts, known as desertification. Aside from circulating water, trees also help to regulate the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Because trees take in carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, they help to slow the effects of global warming. In fact, deforestation now accounts for 15-20% of greenhouse gas emissions. Without these trees, global warming is significantly sped up.
The human population is constantly increasing, and new space must be created and allocated to sustain this increasing strain on our resources. This presents an issue: if our population continues to rise, where will people go? If we want to continue to preserve our forests, we must make the most of our limited space. Instead of expanding outward, we can build up to conserve space. We can also develop more efficient agricultural techniques so that they require less area. For instance, agriculture can be made more sustainable by utilizing crop rotation and natural fertilizers.
As for logging, we should strive to find alternative resources to wood, thereby allowing forests to grow unaffected by human activity. Additionally, stricter rules should be put in place to regulate logging and ensure forests don’t decrease in size any further. Even with these laws, illegal logging remains an important factor in deforestation. To prevent such actions, governments must place more attention on environmental problems. As citizens, we can bring attention to such concerns in order to pressure governments into taking action. Another action that can be taken at home is the reusing and conservation of resources. For example, when not needed, the use of paper should be limited. Lastly, consumers should pay close attention to products and how they’re manufactured. Many products will have a seal that designates them as eco-friendly. By trying to only use these products while avoiding ones made through unsustainable practices, we can help to slow the rate of deforestation.
In conclusion, deforestation has been occurring in forests worldwide as a result of agricultural expansion and logging. This has devastating effects on wildlife, global warming, and agriculture. To improve the bleak outlook, we can and should fight deforestation by remaining informed and proactive. If everyone works together, deforestation can be stopped and nature restored.