Deforestation: facts, causes and consequences

Deforestation is ramping up. The green lungs of the planet are being cut down to seize land for other purposes. According to some estimates, we lose 7,3 million hectares of forest every year, which is about the size of the country of Panama.

Вthese are just a few facts

  • About half of the world’s rainforests have already been lost
  • Currently, forests cover about 30% of the world’s land.
  • Deforestation increases annual global carbon dioxide emissions by 6-12%
  • Every minute, a forest the size of 36 football fields disappears on Earth.

Where are we losing forests?

Deforestation occurs all over the world, but rainforests are the most affected. NASA predicts that if the current scale of deforestation continues, the rainforests could completely disappear in 100 years. Countries such as Brazil, Indonesia, Thailand, Congo and other parts of Africa, and some areas of Eastern Europe will be affected. The biggest danger threatens Indonesia. Since the last century, this state has lost at least 15 million hectares of forest land, according to the University of Maryland USA and the World Resources Institute.

And while deforestation has increased over the past 50 years, the problem goes back a long way. For example, 90% of the original forests of the continental United States have been destroyed since the 1600s. The World Resources Institute notes that primary forests have survived to a greater extent in Canada, Alaska, Russia, and the Northwest Amazon.

Causes of deforestation

There are many such reasons. According to a WWF report, half of the trees illegally removed from the forest are used as fuel.

In most cases, forests are burned or cut down. These methods lead to the fact that the land remains barren.

Forestry experts call clear-cutting an “environmental trauma that has no equal in nature, except, perhaps, a large volcanic eruption”

Forest burning can be done with fast or slow machinery. The ashes of the burnt trees provide food for the plants for some time. When the soil is depleted and the vegetation disappears, the farmers simply move to another plot and the process starts all over again.

Deforestation and climate change

Deforestation is recognized as one of the factors contributing to global warming. Problem #1 – Deforestation affects the global carbon cycle. Gas molecules that absorb thermal infrared radiation are called greenhouse gases. The accumulation of large amounts of greenhouse gases causes climate change. Unfortunately, oxygen, being the second most abundant gas in our atmosphere, does not absorb thermal infrared radiation as well as greenhouse gases. On the one hand, green spaces help fight greenhouse gases. On the other hand, according to Greenpeace, annually 300 billion tons of carbon are released into the environment due to the burning of wood as a fuel.

is not the only greenhouse gas associated with deforestation. also belongs to this category. The impact of deforestation on the exchange of water vapor and carbon dioxide between the atmosphere and the earth’s surface is the biggest problem in the climate system today.

Deforestation has reduced global steam flows from the ground by 4%, according to a study published by the US National Academy of Sciences. Even such a small change in vapor flows can disrupt natural weather patterns and change existing climate models.

More consequences of deforestation

The forest is a complex ecosystem that affects almost every kind of life on the planet. To remove the forest from this chain is tantamount to destroying the ecological balance both in the region and around the world.

National Geographic says that 70% of the world’s plants and animals live in forests, and their deforestation leads to loss of habitats. The negative consequences are also experienced by the local population, which is engaged in the collection of wild plant food and hunting.

Trees play an important role in the water cycle. They absorb precipitation and emit water vapor into the atmosphere. Trees reduce pollution by trapping pollutant runoff, according to North Carolina State University. In the Amazon basin, more than half of the water in the ecosystem comes through plants, according to the National Geographic Society.

Tree roots are like anchors. Without a forest, the soil is easily washed out or blown away, which negatively affects the vegetation. Scientists estimate that a third of the world’s arable land has been lost to deforestation since the 1960s. In place of the former forests, crops such as coffee, soybeans and palm trees are planted. Planting these species leads to further soil erosion due to the small root system of these crops. The situation with Haiti and the Dominican Republic is illustrative. Both countries share the same island, but Haiti has much less forest cover. As a result, Haiti is experiencing problems such as soil erosion, floods and landslides.

Opposition to deforestation

Many believe that more trees should be planted to solve the problem. Planting may mitigate the damage caused by deforestation, but will not resolve the situation in the bud.

In addition to reforestation, other tactics are used.

Global Forest Watch initiated a project to counter deforestation through awareness. The organization uses satellite technology, open data and crowdsourcing to detect and prevent deforestation. Their online community also invites people to share their personal experience – what negative consequences they experienced as a result of the disappearance of the forest.

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