Cause and Impact of Deforestation
Forests are known for their astonishing diversity and productivity as they provide habitat for many of living organisms. They also create rainfall through transpiration that filters the water molecules in their roots and branches. But due to the increasing population and economic demands, deforestation occurs. Deforestation, by definition, is an anthropogenic action that includes the action of clearing out trees. Most importantly, this global issue is caused by many human activities.
One of the direct causes of deforestation is urbanization. Due to the increase in population, development in the rural areas is being vitally needed. This overpopulation causes limitations on the living areas in many countries which leads to the problem of deforestation. By clearing out large areas of inaccessible forests, the land area left for humans to create more living space is largely increased. This development in urbanization will also bring economic benefits to companies that seek the opportunity to improve transportation and increase economic opportunities. For instance, in Rondônia, Brazil, road constructions in the dense tropical forests are approximately 31 miles long with small roads stretching out every 2.5 miles. This is known as the “fishbone patter” caused by urbanization and constructions from the 1970s to 1990s (NASA). This type of constructions is still having huge impacts on the rate of deforestation as it encourages more settlers to farm in those areas.
Deforestation of Amazon Rainforest 1975 – 2013 (NASA)
Another cause of deforestation is the increase of large-scale wood extraction. This increase in illegal and legal wood extraction, also known as logging, includes the action of cutting down parts of the tree or the timber for economic purposes. Agriculture expansion is also a major contributor to deforestation. Around the world, forests are disappearing because of food production. Farmers clear out large areas of forest to allow the large-scale commercial activities such as cattle pasture and plantation. This will increase biofuels released into the atmosphere and will cause accidental forest fires due to the burning and cutting down of trees. The Amazon rainforest is one of many tropical forests that is disappearing due to wood extraction and agriculture expansion. It had 4200 square kilometers cleared out in 1978, 30000 square kilometers in 1988, 53300 in 1998, and approximately 67764 square kilometers was lost at the end of 2003, all due to degradation. The visual above shows the deforestation of the Amazon rainforests from 1975 to 2013 (NASA). In this visualization, the rainforest started with green trees covering up the whole land area and a few road constructions that create the “fishbone” pattern. Then over 23 years, the same forest became bare grounded due to large scale of wood extraction and finally, settlers and farmers moved into the forest for agriculture purposes. The deforestation of this specific part of the Amazon rainforest expanded towards the Jaciparaná River and the Nova Mamoré. Overall, the cause of deforestation is predicable to us. First road construction begins which made the unreachable forests available for settlers and farmers. Then a large scale of wood extraction and agriculture expansion begins, decreasing the number of trees and destroying the habitat of different species. This pattern is being repeated in different regions and it is destroying 18.7 million acres of forests every year (WWF). This number is continually increasing as more human activities are being encouraged in the forests.
Deforestation Caused by Farmers and Settlers
Deforestation is having an impact on many different aspects of our planet, which include both the environment and human society. One of the greatest impacts that deforestation has on our planet is the destruction of ecosystems. The tropical rainforest, for instance, is the habitat of over 50% of the species on Earth (NASA). This means that the productivity of the rainforest is very important as it can sustain various of different ecosystems and microhabitat by only covering 7% of the Earth’s land area (Simmon). But as the land area of the rainforest gradually decreases due to anthropogenic impacts, habitat fragmentations occur in the ecosystem. According to studies done by Compton Tucker and David Skole, two biologists and tropical forest experts, discover that the habitat fragmentation is mainly caused by road constructions that created the “fishbone” pattern (Tucker). The road constructions are spread all over the rainforest, which can be even more detrimental to biodiversity than simply clearing out a single area of the forest. Because these roads allow human activities such as hunting and poaching to be practiced in the deep forests. When the species’ microhabitat is destroyed, they are unable to sustain their food chain and habitat with the bare grounded forests. This also made them more visible to the hunters as their protection from the trees has been shattered. Habitat fragmentation is followed by a large scale of extinctions. Species such as amur leopard and bonobo are all endangered due to hunting, poaching and the loss of biodiversity.
Solution for Deforestation Issue
Although deforestation is a major issue, there are still solutions that can reduce deforestation. Government, law, and regulation play a big role when it comes to solving global issues. By reinforcing regulations on companies and promoting policies that benefit forests, deforestation can be greatly reduced. Polices and corporations that implement “zero deforestation” should be introduced in the marketing and economic field. And tax and price ceilings should be added by the government to decrease the demand for the goods made from “deforestation”. The government can set up regulations that control the supply chain of the factories and promote more recyclable materials. Industries can then corporate with other institutions that will transform the mode of our economy where nature is protected, and deforestation is reduced. Furthermore, international policies and regulations should also be implemented to help save the forests. For instance, laws such as the Endangered Species Act, the Lacey Act and the Wilderness Act all are created to benefit forests and restrain illegal activates like logging from entering the market. International treaties such as the Convention on International Trade Endangered, the Framework Convention on Climate Change are all positive regulation that protects the ecosystems in the forests and the forests itself. By introducing regulations to the marketplace and policies that benefit wildlife and the forests, deforestation can be reduced.