Sure, we remove trees for agriculture and manufacturing, but the rate at which we are going these days is astounding. Massive deforestation impacts not only biodiversity, but the climate and human life as well.
About 30% of the world’s land area is covered by forests, according to the deforestation page of National Geographic. However, it also makes mention that “swaths the size of Panama are lost each and every year.” To put that into perspective, the world’s rain forests could be completely gone in a hundred years of this rate of deforestation keeps up.
There are lots of reasons forests are cut down, but mostly they are for money-making purposes or the need of people to provide for their family. Agriculture serves as the biggest driver for agriculture as farmers fell trees to make room for planting crop or for their livestock. Some small farmers clear a few areas so they can feed their families, but the method they use is what’s called “slash and burn” agriculture which involves cutting down trees then burning them.
The logging industry, responsible for the paper and wood products in the world, are responsible for the countless tress felled each year. While we can use these products, some loggers act illegally. Even worse, they build roads so remote forests can be easily accessed.
The growing urban sprawl is another reason for clearing forests. Then again, there are occasions when deforestation isn’t caused by human activity or isn’t intentional. Cases such as wildfire and overgrazing can prevent the growth of young trees.
List of Pros of Deforestation
While benefits such as being able to provide people with a living, getting fuel and lumber and clearing land to use for pasture may be cited as reasons for clearing forests, they just aren’t benefits if the trees felled aren’t replaced with new ones. Because isn’t that the right thing to do? When you cut one down, you have to replace it so in a few years in can grow and contribute to the environment it’s in.
But a study by researchers from Dartmouth College has a finding that may just make sense in terms of asking about the benefits of deforestation.
1. Some areas are better off without trees.
While forests are used to store carbon to slow the effects of climate change, a study by a group from Dartmouth College find that some wooded areas could actually use less trees. The researchers cite that an area without trees allows the cleared landscape to reflect rather than absorb the sun’s energy. But this isn’t for all though – it’s just for certain areas. For instance, it’s better for a snow-covered area to act as natural mirror if forests are to be used as a way to cool the climate.
Although they study – published in the journal Ecological Applications – doesn’t advocate deforestation, it does suggest that carbon offset policies are ignoring a key way forests interact with the atmosphere, particularly in areas with high altitude where slow-growing trees are present and there is frequent snowfall.
List of Cons of Deforestation
1. It has a negative impact on the environment.
Forests aren’t just a bunch of trees grouped together in the same area – there are living species who rely on such an environment too. What happens then if humans keep invading their space? They either flee or die because the world they know no longer exists or can’t provide them with what they need.
Seventy percent of land animals and plants on earth live in forests. If we continue to destroy their homes, how many will be able to survive? If you’ve listened to the news these days, you’ll notice that more and more animals are becoming endangered because of the activities we conduct in their habitat.
2. It drives climate change.
We have been taught from an early age that trees are important not just for the environment, but in life as well. Trees help the water cycle carry on by returning water vapor back to the atmosphere. Now, without trees, what will happen to forests? They might just end up as barren deserts.
Also, forest soils are moist, bu they do need the protection of trees. Why is that? Trees offer shade so the soil doesn’t dry out as quickly. So without this sun-blocking helper around, forests will turn into deserts.
Trees also act as a canopy for forests. What that means is that they block the rays of the sun during the day and then hold in heat at night. Depriving forests of that canopy by felling trees result in extreme temperature swings that are not helpful to plants and animals. They’ll either have a hard time adjusting to such new conditions, or worse, end up dying because they couldn’t cope.
Greenhouse gases that are emitted in the atmosphere are absorbed by trees. We all know how harmful greenhouse gases are as they do fuel global warming. With fewer forests, a lot more greenhouse gases can escape into the atmosphere and therefore make global warming even worse.
3. It affects human life.
We are a generation that will suffer the brunt of climate change. But we are also responsible for putting the world in the state that it is in. While we may put some of the blame on the actions of those who came before us, it can always be argued that situations then were not the same as it is now.
Today, we have knowledge at our fingertips and all the tools to tell us how good or bad the world is getting. Yet, despite all these great technologies, we still couldn’t stop each other from tearing the world apart.
While the effects of global warming are here and clear, we can do other measures to ensure that at least a good part of this world can still be inherited by the generation that follows. Saving the forests is one of the best things that can be done.
According to WWF, about 1.6 billion people rely on the benefits that forests can offer, including food, fresh water, clothing, traditional medicine and shelter. However, around the world, forests are being threatened by deforestation which jeopardizes the benefits just mentioned. Whether it is due to clear-cutting for agriculture or degradation due to climate change, forests of the world are disappearing.
That is something that we should strive hard not to happen as it impacts the livelihood of people, and it also threatens a large number of plant and animal species. The number of forests we lose every minute is equivalent to 36 football fields.
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.