Our planet is covered by more than 10 billion acres of forests, which is over 30% of its entirety. Now, people are cutting them down at a rapid rate (about 15 million acres per year) in a process called deforestation in order to make room for developments, such as roads, buildings and other man-made structures. This has been happening since the early 1990s.
Although deforestation is often thought of negatively, there are some advantages we can get from the practice. Otherwise, it would not be happening, right? What we need to do is to evaluate its benefits against its potential future risks. Will the long-term gains of transforming our lands outweigh the long-term gains of leaving it as it is? By evaluating both the pros and cons of this method, then we can effectively answer this question.
List of Pros of Deforestation
1. It creates more usable space for growth.
One of the main reasons that these forests are being cut down is to make room for expansion. With all of the free areas that are being created from deforestation, things like economy-stimulating businesses and improved road systems can be built.
With 10 billion people expected to be on the planet by 2050 and the never-ending growth explosion in sight, space has become more of a premium necessity on Earth. When there are forests on lands that could be utilized for habitation, then removing them can create more livable space. Commercial establishments and homes will also be built using the products that have been removed from the biome.
2. It produces more usable material.
All of the trees are being cut down to be used for producing lumber and other types of wood product. From the saps to the plants, they can be used to make good paper and many other necessities. For the land itself, it can be used for agricultural purposes.
Considering the products of deforestation, it can certainly provide an economic benefit, both regional and local in many instances. Timber and paper are created for the whole world to enjoy, and some of the toilet paper, which is used in most households, comes at least in some part from deforestation, unless it was created from purely recyclable items.
3. It allows for civilization and industrialization.
If we think of it, wide parts of forests around the world are left unused, which could instead be converted into some more beneficial agricultural sites, which can help feed hundreds or even thousands of people who are starving. A few parts of these lush lands can also be used to make great infrastructures that will help economies boom, hence assisting all the people living in them economically as well.
4. It creates more job openings.
Mostly, the people who are working in a forest clearing have no other job opportunities available to them, which means deforestation is providing workers with the financial resources they need to take care of their families on a regular basis. When a certain forested area is cleared, workers can then settle down and establish a farm, plantation or an industry sector that can help keep income flowing.
5. It allows for the opportunity to graze animals.
Animal grazing is one good way to make deforestation highly useful. With this method, it will be easier for people to find possibly unknown animals that are hiding within the virgin forests or even rediscover those that are declared extinct. This will provide the chance for us to propagate them for the better.
6. It gives us the chance to produce more food.
Developments in crop technologies have resulted in huge volumes of farming yields over the last 2 decades, but it is speculated that this may not be sufficient in the next 2 decades. Fortunately, deforestation can provide enough space to produce enough food for more than 10 billion people who will be hungry in the future.
7. It allows people to generate more revenue.
The process of deforestation creates a strong source of revenue for governments around the world. This helps stimulate many economies, especially in developing countries.
List of Cons of Deforestation
1. It increases carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Plants and trees play a vital role in keeping the planet habitable. As most of us probably know, photosynthesis (a process that happens in plants) filters carbon dioxide gases out of the air and releases oxygen. This means that cutting huge numbers of plants can have a very negative impact on the environment. It will allow green house gases to build up and contributing to global warming.
2. It further promotes the development of drought.
Global warming brings about a lot of unfavorable consequences, including drought, which is already affecting many parts of the world. To mention, deforestation encourages higher levels of water consumption for growing livestock and crops. Instead of having a natural system of moisture recycling forests provide, water goes to food and livestock production, removing it from the natural cycle of life.
3. It focuses only on short-term gains.
According to research, the world is already producing more than 10% of the calories it needs for the entire world population today. In fact, many countries are consuming more than 1,000 calories a day per capita, which is more than the needed amount for proper health. We should take note that, if more food is produced, then people will tend to focus more on short-term gains, instead of meeting long-term needs.
4. It is a limited resource.
Regardless of the many monetary benefits we can get from deforestation at first, these timber profits could go away since there will not be any additional trees being planted to replace those that are harvested. Livestock and farms may not be nearly as profitable as a living, considering the thriving forests on a planetary scale.
5. It contributes to the extinction of wildlife.
The removal of a habitat is often the foundation for the extinction of a species. When forests are cut down, it is not only the trees that are being lost, but also countless amounts of wildlife, such as mammals, birds, insects, amphibians and many other animals that make them their home. With nowhere else for them to go, they will be forced into areas that are not suited for them. In fact, there has been a drastic decline in the amount of wildlife in certain areas that have experienced severe effects of deforestation. In essence, we are removing a piece of ourselves when we no longer allow for animals to exist as they always have.
6. It causes flooding.
We all know that trees and plants play a vital role in absorbing excess ground water by sucking the extra moisture up through their roots and disperse it back into the atmosphere. So, without plants, trees and other plant life, there will be nothing to help regulate the excess water from rain, and the soil will become over saturated. This is one of the main causes of flooding not only in the deforested area, as well as its surroundings.
7. It may hinder the production of future medicines.
Only a small fraction of the forests in the world have been explored by non-tribal humans, and many of the best medicines today have a foundation from items that were secured from these rich lands. Now, deforestation would remove the possibility to study the biome, learn from it and help improve human life for all.
8. It only renders a short time to lose all forests.
Given the rapid rate that forests are being hacked down every day through deforestation, it is a very likely possibility that the planet will lose all rain forests in as little as 100 years. And if this happens, all of the species of plants and animals that are native to them will be lost as well.
9. It introduces countless environmental and community harms.
The abrupt and irreversible consequences of global deforestation can certainly put the existence of human beings and the whole world at risk.
10. It causes a domino of unfavorable effects.
Deforestation can cause a domino effect on the whole planet, including global climate change, indigenous people annihilation and biodiversity extinction. One wrong move, and the process will lead us to an empty and meaningless world. The death of plants and animals can lead to a partial loss of human life.
In conclusion, deforestation, while it may be necessary, will have an extremely negative effect on the environment. Although there are many benefits that can be enjoyed through it, its risks cannot be ignored. Many deforestation efforts focus only on short-term gains and think nothing of the long-term risks and consequences. The cure for a significant number of devastating illnesses could be found in forest areas right now, and deforestation may remove permanently the ability to discover something that could benefit the human race for the coming years.
Deforestation should definitely have its place and should never be overdone? Study shows that an area the size of 20 football fields is lost every 20 minutes! Considering this threat, we can help research about what we can do help slow down this destructive process.
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.