Deforestation is also known as clearing or clearance of trees. It can be said to mean removal of trees or forests and the conversion of such area of land to a use that is totally non-forest in nature. It is a human act in which forests are permanently destroyed in order to create settlement area and use of the trees for industries like manufacturing of paper, wood. The Impacts of Deforestation are adverse and there is need to prevent and control it before it can get any worse.
Some Examples of Deforestation are:
Conversion of areas from forest to urban or farm use. The area of land that undergoes the most of deforestation is the tropical rainforests.
Note: Forests cover more than 31% in total land area of surface of the earth.
There are lot of different reasons why deforestation occurs:
Some trees are being cut down for building as a fuel (timber or coal) while areas of land are to be used as plantation and also as pasture to feed livestock.
When trees are removed with properly replacing them, there can as a result be a loss of biodiversity and even habitat damage.
We also had cases of deforestation used in times of war to starve the enemy.
Causes of Deforestation:
Deforestation is mainly a human activity affected by many factors:
Overpopulation contributed to deforestation because there is need to create a settlement area for increasing number of people on earth and need of urbanization for economic reasons. Recently, population has greatly risen in the world and people require shelter as a basic need. Forests are destroyed in order for people to find land to build a shelter and the trees are further cut to build those houses.
Another factor influencing deforestation is Industrialization. Industries that use trees to manufacture their product. Example: paper and wood industries that have caused major destruction of forests. The problem with industries is the large-scale need for trees which causes extensive deforestation.
Fire is also a cause of deforestation. During drought, fire spreads widely and burn down trees. The fire incidences could result from human activities like smoking or charcoal burning in the forests. Drought due to adverse weather changes in global warming is a natural disaster that claims the lives of people and living things.
Agricultural activities such as farming and livestock keeping also cause deforestation because of the land demand in those activities.
Impacts or Environmental Effects of Deforestation:
Deforestation has a lot of negative effects on our planet and environment. It has a great impact on the ecosystem in different ways:
Climate change is influenced by deforestation because trees influence weather directly. Trees usually act to protect against strong winds and erosion but in absence, natural disasters like floods and storms could be experienced. Also trees are important in replenishing the air in the atmosphere.
Trees have the ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen. Without trees, the concentration of carbon dioxide in atmosphere will be increased because CO2 is a greenhouse gas, it causes Global warming.
Global Warming is a serious environmental issue that causes adverse climatic changes and affects life on earth. Deforestation is a key cause of greenhouse effect. About 20% of emission of greenhouse gases is a result of tropical deforestation.
The land in the area that is deforested heats up quicker and it gets to a temperature that is higher than the normal, causing flow of water vapors and even wind flow, all these affects climate.
Deforestation greatly affects water cycle. The existence of water vapor in the atmosphere is maintained by trees. Absence of trees cause a reduced vapor retention in the atmosphere which result in adverse climate changes. The water content is heavily reduced by deforestation.
Trees and other forest vegetation are important in preventing water pollution because they prevent the contaminated runoff into water sources like rivers, lakes and oceans.
Without trees, pollution of water is more frequent and therefore, water will be unsafe for consumption by humans and animals.
Effect on Biodiversity:
Loss of species due to deforestation has negatively affected biodiversity. Biodiversity is a highly valued aspect of life on earth and its interruption is a loss.
There is a loss of habitat for species to exist in as a result of deforestation and therefore species face extinction.
Extinction of some rare species is a threat we are currently facing. Animals that live and depend on forest vegetation for food will also suffer and die of hunger.
Ways to combat with Deforestation:
Based on serious impact of deforestation, it is only safe if solutions are sought to end this problem.
The ultimate solution is Restoration of forest landmass on earth.
The restoration can be done by encouraging the planting of trees, a process called Reforestation. Although Reforestation will not completely solve the impacts of deforestation, it will restore a habitat for the wild animals and slowly restore the ecosystem.
Major impacts like concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere require another approach. Human activities that contribute to carbon dioxide gas emission to the atmosphere have to be reduced through strict polices for industries and finding alternative energy sources that do not produce greenhouse gases.
Another solution is public awareness. People have to be made aware that deforestation has negative effects so that they can reduce them. Through awareness, people can also be taught on ways of reducing the population. Example: Family Planning.
On World Environment Day, people are encouraged to participate in activities like tree planting in order to conserve environment and that is how the awareness takes place.
Deforestation is a human activity that is destructive and should be discouraged. Environmental Conservation is our responsibility because we have only one earth to live in.