“Deforestation is the permanent destruction of forests to make the land available for other purposes.”
What is Deforestation?
Deforestation is the most devastating environmental issue. This occurs when the forests are converted to non-forest areas for agriculture and road construction purposes.
Since the 1960s, over half of the forests in the tropical regions have been destroyed. The tropical rainforests are an abode to most of the biodiversity in the world. World Wildlife Fund has been protecting these forests for more than 50 years. Most of the forests in Europe have also been destroyed by diseases, forest fires, insects, livestock and other human activities.
A large amount of greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation. It has led to increased environmental imbalance. The earth’s temperature is increasing at an alarming rate. Most of the biodiversity across the globe has become extinct or is endangered because of lack of food and destruction of habitat.
Various measures are being taken by the government to preserve the environment. But to practise it at the personal level, one should be aware of the causes and effects of deforestation. Let us have a detailed look at these.
Also Read: Forests-Our Lifeline
Causes of Deforestation
The important causes of deforestation include:
Forests are being used for the expansion of agriculture. The increasing demand for agricultural commodities has led to the destruction of forests at an alarming rate. Even if efforts are made to replenish the forests, the unproductive soil is unable to produce at the original rate.
Livestock ranching is another reason for deforestation. Vast areas of forest lands are cleared for cattle grazing. They also trample upon the land and destroy the growing vegetation. Large stretches of land have also been burnt to convert them into pastures. This has led to the destruction of a large number of forests.
Forests are destroyed to collect logs of wood for commercial purposes. Illegal logging operations are very common in developing countries.
Multipurpose River-Valley projects
Large areas of forests are destroyed during the implementation of river-valley projects. The reservoirs built behind the dams submerge a large part of the forests. This disturbs the ecological balance of that area.
In this practice, a piece of land in the forests is cleared by burning to cultivate crops. Once the land loses its productivity, the farmers shift to some other place by burning it.
The increasing population has led to an increase in the demand for space and resources. This has led to the depletion of forests to create space for the growing population and raw materials for industries to manufacture various products.
Also Read: Reforestation
Effects of Deforestation
Following are the major effects of deforestation faced by the world:
Loss of Biodiversity
80% of the biodiversity is found in forests. Due to the deforestation practices, there is a great reduction in the plant and animal species. Most of these species have become extinct or are endangered.
The trees maintain the ecological balance and keep the environment cool by inhaling carbon dioxide gas. Due to the destruction of forests, there is no regulation of temperature in the forested areas. The annual rainfall has also decreased drastically. Thus the climate of the earth is becoming warmer with every passing year.
Loss of Soil Fertility
Clearing the forests leads to the leaching of the soil nutrients. This results in the loss of fertility of the soil. Forests are burnt for cultivation purposes. Overgrazing by animals also reduces the fertility of the soil in the forests.
Forests can absorb a large amount of water from rains. Due to the destruction of forests, most of the water runs directly into the streams and rivers. This causes a considerable increase in the water levels which is a threat to the population staying on the river banks or coastal areas.
The trees hold the soil firmly. Due to the destruction of trees, the soil carries the nutrients and agricultural chemicals along with it. These flow into the water bodies and pollute them.
Following are the important points that would help to conserve forests:
- A set of rules or laws should be implemented to curb the uncontrollable cutting of trees.
- Compete depletion of forests should be banned.
- People should be encouraged to plant more and more trees.
- People should be made aware of the harmful consequences of deforestation and how it is degrading the planet.
Deforestation is a serious environmental issue. Everyone needs to take steps to solve the problem else the earth will soon be a barren ugly land.
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