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Causes and Effects of Deforestation
Every living being is at threat of extinction if deforestation continues at its current pace. This also includes human beings. We must preserve forests if we want to sustain ourselves in this world. However, till now, no palpable initiative has been taken by us to stop deforestation that is going at a rapid rate on Earth for various human-related causes. In this tutorial, we will discuss what deforestation is, what causes it, and what are some major effects of it.
What is Deforestation?
Deforestation refers to the removal of trees from a forest. It is also known as clearcutting, clearance, or clearing, and after the phenomenon, trees are employed for non-forest use. In other words, deforestation is the destruction of forests by cutting down trees and clearing the land for other human uses.
Deforestation converts wooded lands to farms, ranches, and urban areas. Currently, deforestation is mainly done for the production of beef, soy, palm oil, and other hugely popular and lucrative commodities.
The most notable deforestation is now taking place in the Amazon rainforest of South America.
Image: Deforestation in area in Amazonian jungle of South America
Causes of Deforestation
Deforestation may occur for natural as well as artificial reasons. Sometimes, deforestation occurs naturally while in some other cases it is deliberate. Here are some causes of deforestation.
- Agricultural, residential, commercial, and industrial land development
- Volcanic eruptions
- Temperature/Climate change
- Severe insect infestation
- Wartime/Human activities
- Strip mining
Whatever the cause of deforestation, they are dangerous in nature because deforestation is self-perpetuating and calls for more deforestation automatically. Deforestation leads to flooding, higher temperatures, soil erosion, and desertification at an exponential rate and hence must be stopped at any cost.
Although some may argue that natural causes are the biggest contributing factor to deforestation, it is human activities for which most of the deforestation occurs on Earth. That is why we must be careful while cutting trees down. It is easy to cut a tree but to grow one it needs enough care and resources.
Effects of Deforestation
Scientists are continually studying the grave effects of deforestation but there are some effects that are already known. Here are some effects of deforestation that are already known to scientists.
Atmospheric effects of deforestation
It is known to all that forests act as sinks of carbon that absorb the atmospheric carbon dioxide while preparing their food and returning oxygen to the environment. It is observed that the rainforests of South America alone produce 20% of breathable oxygen
As trees are cut down, the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by trees drastically goes down. So, the amount of carbon dioxide increases in the environment. This increases the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Lack of atmospheric water
Trees control the level of weather in the atmosphere. As trees are cut down, the level of water in the atmosphere goes down. This results in dryer soil and desertification. Gradually, soil that has no trees stops supporting agriculture and cattle ranching.
Loss of animal habitat
As eighty percent of known animals on the planet reside in the forests, the loss of forests leads to vulnerability of losing their habitat. This may result in the extinction of some species of animals.
Extinction refers to the unavailability of individuals of a certain species of an animal. It is related to biodiversity, and as loss of animal diversity affects the ecosystem, deforestation is a cause of imbalance in the ecosystems.
Soil erosion and flooding
Trees hold the ground tightly by their roots and underground parts. When trees are cut, rains lead to the erosion of soil. As the topsoil erodes, the land is left sterile and prone to flooding. Erosion and deforested land lead to perpetual deforestation, hence the land deforested becomes unable to have more trees on the land.
Moreover, as crop growth is not supported, the land becomes barren and useless. Therefore, deforestation leads to more deforestation automatically which is dangerous for all animals and living beings.
Impact on indigenous people’s lives
Although urban people are less affected by deforestation, the indigenous people are affected heavily because they depend on forests for their food and living. As trees are cut down, they lose their food and means of living lives. Deforestation kills animals and medicines used by indigenous people. The loss of trees, therefore, impacts the tribals’ lives abruptly, leaving them susceptible to adverse conditions.
Solutions for Deforestation
There are many ways through which deforestation can be managed. Learning about them is easy and it does not take too many resources. Here are some ways through which you can contribute to the cause.
Plant a tree
The most obvious example to tackle deforestation is planting trees. If all people start planting trees, it will soon overtake the number of trees cut down. In that way, we can compete with the process of deforestation.
Support organizations that work for the cause
There are many organizations in the world that work to settle the issue of deforestation. Here are some of them that you can connect with and support by donating funds
The World Wildlife Federation has been active for more than 50 years in forest management practices, reforming trade policies, combating illegal logging, protecting forested land, and much more. You can connect with them to learn more and donate for taking measures against deforestation.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature also supports the cause to a large extent and it has been active since 1948. You can volunteer for the organization by becoming a member that already has 10,000 plus strength.
The Pachamama Alliance is a global community of environmentalists and advocates who support the cause of reforestation, you can support the organization and become a member to act against deforestation.
Advocate reforestation by subscribing to, supporting, and donating to organizations for the cause of stopping deforestation. This can help our climate remain safe from deforestation and its ill effects.
If we want to sustain this planet, we must stop deforestation right now. There is plenty of activities we must get involved in to solve the issue. For this mass awareness is required. That is why learning and spreading the message of reforestation is so important. Unless we act quickly, there is a chance of irreversible damage to the world environment. Hence we must act at once, right now.
Qns 1. Write any four causes of deforestation.
Agricultural, residential, commercial, and industrial land development
Qns 2. Write any four effects of deforestation.
Lack of atmospheric water.
Soil erosion and flooding, and
Negative impact on indigenous people’s lives
Increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases.
Qns 3. What is the full form of IUCN?
Ams.IUCN stands for International Union for Conservation of Nature.
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