Natural resources including soil, water, forest, mineral and biodiversity have been repeatedly destroyed around the world by humans. “Since 1970, over 600,000 square kilometers (232,000 square miles) of Amazon rainforest have been destroyed” (Butler, 2011). The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) estimated that “soil erosion carries away a volume of soil equivalent to one metre deep over 200,000 hectares every year in the Philippines.” In Asia, where water has always been regarded as an abundant resource, per capita availability declined by 40-60% between 1955 and 1990 (Coleridge, 2006). “In South Africa major conservation areas such as Kruger national park risked losing up to 60% of the species under their protection” (Brown, 2004). Mindful of the losses of natural resources, this essay will discuss how human activities harm the world’s natural resources in terms of the loss of soil resource, forest resource, and biodiversity.
• The loss of soil resource
Human activities have often led to the loss of soil resources, which are the basis for sustained food security. Soil occurs naturally from physical and chemical disintegration of rocks and minerals combined with fossil. Because of such a combination, soil has different properties. Nowadays human activities repeatedly destroy soil resource. For example, illegal logging degrades soil quality. It is easy for wind and water to bring fertile soil away, which eventually results to soil erosion. The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization, a branch of United Nations) estimates that “the global loss of productive land through erosion is 5-7 million ha/year.” Another example of the loss of soil resource is farmers’ lack of knowledge (ทัศนีย์ อัตตะนันทน์, 2554). These farmers will not know indeed how to prepare soil for cultivation. That is why the soil quality is damaged. WRI, UNEP, UNDP, and World Bank have found that “the degradation of soil resources all over the world is 1.9 billion hectares.” Both examples show that human activities cause the loss of soil resource.
• The loss of forest resource
Forests, which are valuable asset and essential resource on earth, have been destroyed by human activities. “Nearly 4 billion hectares of forest cover the earth’s surface, roughly 30 percent of its total land area” (Mygatt, 2006). There are many tree and animal species in the forest, so forests contain a lot of beneficial things for humans. Many human activities destroy the forest area. For example, people often cut down the trees and use the wood for trade, fuel, and furniture. The removal of trees without sufficient reforestation will result to the loss of forest area. “Forest area decreased worldwide by 0.22% per year in the period 1990-2000 and 0.18% per year between 2000 and 2005” (FAO, 2006).
This research shows that the world in every year still continues to lose the forest area. Another example of human activity is people, especially in developing countries, change the forest area to agriculture land and tourist attraction including resorts, museums, and parks. The 2007 report, which involved more than 1,300 scientists from 95 countries, said that “every year about 10-million hectares of the world’s forests are lost to unsustainable modes of economic development.” All of above are human activities, which cause the loss of forest resource.
• The loss of biodiversity
Despite knowing about biodiversity’s importance for a long time, human activity has been causing the loss of biodiversity. Biodiversity means the diversity of plant and animal life in a particular habitat around the world. Scholar estimates that “there are 5 million species on the earth, but only 1.9 species are known.” Nevertheless, the numbers of species have been disappearing by human activities every day. For instance, illegal logging is the greatest cause of species extinction worldwide because tropical forests contain at least half the Earth’s species. Scientists said that “plant and animal species are now disappearing 100 to 1,000 times faster than the natural pace of extinction.”
This rapid extinction rate makes ecosystem become imbalance. Another example of human activity that causes the loss of biodiversity is hunting. Most people hunt for food, trade, and recreation. This activity also makes the wildlife become extinct rapidly. Statistics data on the loss of biodiversity suggest that “at least 20% of bird species have already completely vanished and that 23% of mammals, 25% of conifers, 32% of amphibians and 52% of cycads continue to face serious threat of extinction.” These are the examples of human activities that lead to the loss of biodiversity.
Human activities (such as illegal logging, farmers’ lack of knowledge, land clearing, and hunting) are the major causes of the losses of soil resource, forest resource, and biodiversity. People should pay more attention to these problems. They can learn more information about the soil to prevent the loss of soil resource. When they cut down trees, they should not forget to reforest for avoiding the loss of forest resource. They should be more concern and conserve to the forest area to protect biodiversity, otherwise plant and animal species on earth may decrease and totally disappear from the earth.