Forests cover over 31% of the land area of our planet. They produce oxygen which is vital for living and also provides homes for people and wildlife. Forests play a critical role in mitigating climate change as they work as a carbon sink. They soak up the carbon dioxide that would otherwise be free in the atmosphere and contribute to climate change. But forests around the world are under threat from deforestation.
What is Deforestation?
Deforestation refers to the removal of forest cover where the land is thereafter converted to a non-forest use. The loss of the forest cover results change in the climatic condition and also affects the biodiversity which in turn threatens the life of the people. Deforestation comes in many forms, including forest fires, ranching and development, unsustainable logging for timber, clear-cutting for agriculture, and degradation due to climate change. Some 46 to 58 thousand square miles of forest are lost each year due to deforestation.
Causes of Deforestation
The most common pressures causing deforestation and severe forest degradation are agriculture, forest fires, mining, infrastructure projects and increased logging. Some of the causes of deforestation are discussed below.
The conversion of forests into agricultural land is one of the major causes of deforestation. Many forest cover has been converted into agricultural lands in order to satisfy the growing needs of the people. It is estimated more than 5 lakh hectares of forest area is been converted into agricultural land every year.
Commercial logging along with illegal logging contributes a lot to deforestation around the world. Trees are cut down in order to obtain firewood and building materials due to overpopulation and the growing demands.
Environmental problems such as loss of biodiversity, erosion, contamination of soil and water are mainly caused due to the mining process. Due to the growing demand of minerals, the impact of mining on forests is rising day by day. In some places, the trees are cut down in the surroundings of the mining region to increase the place for the storage of soil and created debris.
Rapid growth in the industries
As urbanization and industrialization are growing at a very fast rate, trees have been cut off in order to meet the needs of the evolution. This has an adverse effect on the ecosystem.
Forest fires also lead to a large loss of the forest cover. Each year, fires burn millions of hectares of forest worldwide. The resulting loss has wide-reaching consequences on climate, biodiversity, and the economy.
Effects of Deforestation
Deforestation has a lot of consequences on the environment. Environmental effects like global warming, floods and droughts, soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, and climate change are caused due to deforestation. Some effects of deforestation are explained below.
Trees play a major role in controlling global warming. The trees balance in the atmosphere by controlling the greenhouse gases. With the increase in deforestation, a number of greenhouse gases is increasing causing global warming.
When it rains, trees absorb and store a large amount of water with the help of their roots. Due to deforestation, the trees are cut down and the flow of rainwater is disrupted which causes a flood in many areas.
Tree roots anchor the soil. Due to the loss of forests, the topsoil gets direct access to sunlight and heavy rainfall which causes soil erosion. This leads to the fall in the quality of soil which makes it useless for any purpose.
Loss of biodiversity
This is one of the main problems caused due to deforestation. It leads to the extinction of many animal and plant species which in turn affects the food cycle. Due to deforestation many wonderful species of animals and plants have been lost, and many others remain endangered. It is estimated that around 50 to 100 species of animals are lost each day as a result of the destruction of their habitats.
Due to the loss of the forest covers, the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere increases which results in global warming. This results in a change in the climatic condition.
Trees play a vital role in protecting our environment in several ways so it is our duty to protect the forest. These deforestation solutions can be undertaken to control the excess deforestation around the world.
- The best way to prevent deforestation is reforestation or replanting.
- The clear-cutting of entire forests must be banned. This can lead to total depletion of the forests.
- Due to the extent of deforestation, efforts to stop the human activities can be complemented by laws and regulation at governmental and organizational levels.
- Cutting of trees must be replaced by planting young trees to replace the old ones that were cut.
- Sensitization and Educative Campaigns should be organized to create awareness about the effects of deforestation.
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