Deforestation is the act of clearing, cutting, and removing a forest ecosystem. This action is done to turn the cleared land into something that can be used for agricultural purposes.
Most activities which involve this process create less diversity by turning the region into a plantation, croplands, or pasture for livestock.
Resource extraction is another priority during deforestation activities. Mining and logging all create economic benefits because the short-term profits generated from the sale of forest items seems to outweigh the environmental consequences of tree removal. Starting in the 1960s, the next three decades would see the removal of rainforests occur at record levels because of clearcutting and land reclamation activities.
Up to 95% of the rainforests along the Atlantic coast of Brazil have been lost due to deforestation activities. Over 50% of the rainforests in Latin America have been lost due to development. Less than 10% of this rich biome falls under some level of government protection.
These deforestation pros and cons take a look at the balance which some hope to achieve by clearing out rainforests to create new opportunities.
List of the Pros of Deforestation
1. Deforestation activities create jobs.
People are necessary when tree removal is part of the process. Jobs that pay better than the median wage in Latin and South America become available through the logging and mining activities. Natural gas extraction and oil employment are also possible because of this resource. When the land is converted to agricultural purposes, then there are more jobs available afterward as well. Without the conversion process that deforestation provides, none of this would be possible.
2. Deforestation activities provide us with usable materials.
Many of the resources that we use today come from the rainforest. Although we would like to harvest many of these materials without harming the biome, this isn’t always possible. We build from the materials that are harvested during this process. Items that we take for granted come from these activities, such as aspirin, rubber, dyes, and certain waxes. Clearcutting may not be the best solution, but responsible harvesting activities could help us find a better balance.
3. Deforestation creates usable land.
Our world is a big place. Humanity is also expanding at record levels. Over 200,000 people are added to the global population every day. These future generations require a place to live. They will need food to eat. In the next three decades, our total population numbers are expected to exceed 10 billion for the first time. Although the act of clearing trees does create environmental concerns, so does the need to support our growing population. Deforestation gives us an opportunity to build new homes, create movement networks, and train needed skills in local economies.
4. Deforestation creates revenues at all economic levels.
We use the resources that come from the clearcutting of trees to generate economic activities. Lumber, energy, and new agricultural products all become possible because of an emphasis on deforestation. We even have access to precious metals like gold and platinum because of the work that happens in the rainforests. The profits generated from the sale of these items help to fund research and development projects in numerous industries that are working to make the world a better place to live.
5. Deforestation creates exploration opportunities.
The rainforest offers one of the most diverse biomes on our planet today. Much of this land is yet to be explored. Many of today’s health and wellness discoveries are coming to us because of this process. Clearing the trees makes it possible for us to discover many new things about our world. With the exception of outer space, the rainforest is the final frontier that we have to explore. This process allows us to go deeper into these regions than ever before.
6. Deforestation will ease overcrowding issues.
Brazil is dealing with a severe population problem right now. Their growth rate is nearly 3%, and there is a constant migration toward their cities. Clearing trees has been an effective way to develop new resources because it allows the government to establish vacant territories for people to live. Outside of the rainforests, the land development projects have been found to be unfavorable. That has put even more pressure on the urban centers, and this is the only current idea which offers relief.
7. Deforestation generates revenues for social services.
The cleared lands that come from today’s rainforests provide direct household supports in numerous ways. They generate tax revenues from the businesses involved in these activities, which are then directed toward social programs and infrastructure development that benefit the general population. Over $6 billion in revenues are generated each year because of these activities.
List of the Cons of Deforestation
1. Deforestation changes weather patterns in non-beneficial ways.
Trees are nature’s best air filters. They suck the carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and then replace it with the oxygen that we need. The undergrowth in the forest can filter out toxic chemicals from our air as well. When we remove them through acts of deforestation, then we are putting our planet on a crash course with a future disaster. Drought, pestilence, flooding, and other severe weather changes are all possible because of these actions. We may even see stronger hurricanes, higher levels of ocean acidity, and a decrease in animal diversity because of clearcutting.
2. Deforestation does not provide access to healthy soil.
Using clearcutting activities to create agricultural lands is an almost pointless process because the soil of the rainforest is not immediately suitable for growing crops. Farmers must add fertilizers, often with a high nitrogen content, to get anything to grow. This activity creates pollution within the rest of the biome, making it difficult for other forms of life to survive. There is also a need to reduce aluminum and iron content in the ground, which means additional additives are sometimes necessary to establish farming. These costs often negate the economic advantages that come from deforestation.
3. Deforestation provides a limited economic resource.
The ultimate issue with deforestation is that the rainforest is a finite resource. Once we clear-cut all of the trees away, then there are no economic advantages to gain. We suddenly lose the product access and the research and development activities which are possible from this biome because it is gone. Even though there are billions of dollars available through this action right now, we should be thinking about long-term benefits instead of short-term profits. Sustainable management will always be a better solution when compared to deforestation.
4. Deforestation can change the structure of our atmosphere.
Rainforests have a uniquely powerful way to interact with our atmosphere. Their filtering actions help to dilute some of the worst airborne pollutants that are currently generated in our world today. In exchange for these gases, the trees produce food for themselves before releasing oxygen. Chlorine, sulfur dioxide, and fluorides can all be taken out of the air thanks to the unique structures of the biome too. Deforestation would take all of this way, changing the very structure of the air that we breathe.
5. Deforestation contributes to the extinction of species.
Although the rate of clearcutting has been reduced in recent years, the rainforest biome is still at risk for experiencing extinction-level events. We are still removing 1.5 acres of forest every second, which means the US Department of Agriculture believes that up to 30,000 unique animal species are at risk of extinction within the next 25 years. There are only two ways to stop this process. We must either plant new trees to replace the ones we are harvesting, or we must stop this activity once and for all.
6. Deforestation changes human cultures.
The world’s most endangered indigenous tribes are crying out for help because of the greed that comes from deforestation activities. Courts have even ruled that this activity is comparable to genocide because of how it destroys tribal cultures.
These people have had limited, if any, contact with the outside world. Illegal settlements, cattle ranches, and even hired gunmen called “pistoleros” are hunting down the tribes who live in the rainforest today for their own profit.
7. Deforestation stops future medical advancements.
Although we can certainly benefit from the discoveries that come through the clearcutting processes of deforestation, this is another finite advantage. Once the rainforest is gone, we no longer have the ability to research new medications or develop new treatment protocols. Up to 70% of the plants found in this biome may contain cancer-killing properties. There are resources present here that could help us deal with issues like addiction, high blood pressure, and weight loss. If we only focus on immediate benefits, then we might lose life-changing opportunities.
8. Deforestation encourages community violence.
Farmers, loggers, and miners do more than target the indigenous tribes that live in the rainforest. They also target one another. Anyone who is caught on this land is usually met with lethal force. People are willing to do anything to take resources that they feel can help their family, even if that means committing acts of violence against their neighbors.
9. Deforestation encourages higher levels of soil erosion.
One of the unique benefits that a forest provides is soil stability. This advantage helps to keep the low-quality soil from eroding whenever there are high levels of moisture present. When the trees are taken out of this biome, then the water from the frequent rains can move with greater freedom. That leads to more flooding issues in local communities, pollution in rivers and streams, and life-threatening concerns with flash floods.
10. Deforestation creates a loss of biological diversity.
Forging forward into the final frontier of the rainforest may help us discover new things about our planet, but it also creates a risk that we will limit our future diversity. When there is a limitation to the number of a given species, then there is an increase in mutation risks during reproduction. Even humans experience the scientific process. That is why we must keep this biome around. When we have access to natural diversity, then there are opportunities for us to grow stronger as a global society. Removing them only makes us weaker.
11. Deforestation can be replaced with other economic benefits.
The primary arguments for the practice of cutting trees is that it generates money for people who needed the most. With global platforms like Fiverr and Upwork, it is possible for anyone with a data connection to start their own business. Although there are no guarantees of revenue generation, the same can be said for deforestation. When foreign countries invest in cultures that take profits from their trees, it decreases the number of land conversions that occur.
These deforestation pros and cons show us that we need this biome to create homeostasis on our planet. Although there are short-term economic gains that can seem like a tempting proposition to pursue, clearcutting the forest creates long-term consequences that we are just beginning to understand. We must seek alternative solutions, such as sustainable management, to realize some of the advantages listed here before they go away for good.
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.