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. Logging operations, which provide the world’s wood and paper products, also cut countless trees each year. Loggers, some of them acting illegally, also build roads to access more and more remote forests. This process just leads to further deforestation. Forests are also cut as a result of growing urban populations.
Hydroelectric dams are quite controversial because while they help to power communities, they also contribute to deforestation. Damming opponents believe that the building of such structures not only has a negative environmental impact, but it also opens up the area to loggers and more roads. To build a hydroelectric dam, acres of land must be flooded, which causes decomposition and release of greenhouse gases. Local people can also be displaced by dam projects, causing further deforestation when these people resettle elsewhere.
Although not all deforestation is intentional, some s caused by a combination of human and natural factors like wildfires and subsequent overgrazing, which may prevent the growth of young trees. Fires, both accidental and intended, destroy acres of forest very quickly. Areas affected by logging are more susceptible to fires due to the number of dried and dead trees. Milder winters and extended warm seasons due to global warming also helps fuel fires. For example, certain species of beetle that usually die off each winter are now able to survive and continue feeding on trees.
This feeding causes the trees to die and dry out, making them more susceptible to fires. Effects of Deforestation Deforestation has many negative effects on the environment. The most dramatic impact is a loss of habitat for millions of species. Seventy percent of Earth’s land animals and plants live in forests, and many cannot survive the deforestation that destroys their homes. Soil erosion, while a natural process, is accelerated with deforestation. Trees and plants act as a natural barrier to slow water as it runs off the land. Roots bind the soil and prevent it from washing away.
The absence of vegetation causes the topsoil to erode more quickly. It’s difficult for plants to grow in the less nutritious soil that remains. Deforestation also drives climate change. Forest soils are moist, but without protection from sun blocking tree cover they quickly dry out. Trees also help perpetuate the water cycle by returning water vapor back into the atmosphere. Without trees to fill these roles, many former forest lands can quickly become barren deserts. Removing trees deprives the forest of portions of its canopy, which blocks the sun’s rays during the day and holds in heat at night.
This disruption leads to more extreme temperatures swings hat can be harmful to plants and animals. Trees also play a critical role in absorbing the greenhouse gases that fuel global warming. Fewer forests mean larger amounts of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere. Scientists are finding more and more links between deforestation and global warming. The carbon footprint created by four years of deforestation is equal to the carbon footprint of every single air flight in the history of aviation up to the year 2025. Solutions for Deforestation The quickest solution to deforestation would be to simply stop cutting down trees.
Though deforestation rates have slowed a bit in recent years, financial realities make this unlikely to occur. A more workable solution is to carefully manage forest resources by eliminating clear-cutting to make sure that forest environments remain intact. The cutting that does occur should be balanced by the planting of enough young trees to replace the older ones cut down around the world. Most deforested areas when left alone will eventually regenerate to fertile landscape. We can certainly plant more trees in a process called reforestation. In fact, many nonprofit organizations have popped up to support reforestation.
Although the number of new trees planted each year is growing, their total still equals only a tiny fraction of the Earth’s forested land. Conclusion In conclusion, deforestation is a serious problem affecting all areas of the globe. The effects of deforestation are long lasting and devastating. Entire species of insects and animals have disappeared because of the destruction of their habitats. Scientists see that deforestation has a significant effect on climate change, or global warming. This alone should be enough to cause change in our approach to deforestation.