Can you imagine life without trees? I believe that no one can! The forest is a sanctuary rich with flora and fauna. It’s a place where we go to find peace, hear our thoughts, and be one with nature. With climate change being a well-known issue around the world, you’ve probably come across the devastating term known as deforestation- the mass destruction of trees. As the world pursues ways of slowing down climate change, preserving wildlife, and supporting billions of people we continue with deforestation, and for what?
For a short-term gain, sacrificing the long-term benefits of forests and putting our entire planet in danger. Let’s shake our heads a bit and try to do the right thing to stop deforestation. Where do we start? Perhaps our first step can be a thorough review of these interesting facts about deforestation that’ll give us an idea of how to help and make a difference… Even a tiny one counts!
What is deforestation? Permanent removal of trees to create space for something besides a forest, like land for agriculture or grazing, or using timber for fuel, construction, or manufacturing.
About half the forests in the eastern part of North America were cut down for timber and farming between the 1600s and late 1800s.
Deforestation has also been triggered by the construction of human infrastructures.
The new infrastructures that serve the existing human lifestyle are responsible for 10% of deforestation. They include transportation, transformation, and energy generation.
People moving from rural areas to urban areas are also a factor that contributes to deforestation (5%, according to FAO).
The urban growth in which 68% of the world’s population is expected to live in cities by 2050 is causing an exponential growth of housing and utilization sites.
Another consequence of deforestation is its threat to biodiversity.
Forests represent some of the most genuine centers of biodiversity. From mammals to birds, insects, amphibians, or plants, the forest boasts as a home to many rare and fragile species.
Human activities that destroy the forests are putting in danger entire ecosystems, creating natural imbalances, and putting lives in danger.
Forests are animals’ habitats, so many animals such as elephants and rhinos rely on them. They’ve got a crucial role in mitigating climate change because they act as a carbon basin, saturating carbon dioxide that would otherwise be free in the atmosphere.
Clearing down forests by burning trees is the reason behind 11% of the total carbon dioxide emission responsible for global warming.
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) forests cover more than 30% of the Earth’s land surface.
These forested areas are known to provide food, medicine, and fuel for more than a billion people.
Forests provide 13.4 million people with jobs in the forest sector worldwide, and another 41 million people have got jobs connected to forests.
Unfortunately, forests around the world are under great threat which jeopardizes their benefits. Those threats are deforestation and forest degradation.
Most of the deforestation nowadays is happening in the tropics. New roads are built through the dense forests to make areas that were inaccessible in the past now within our reach.
Researches presented that the tropics lost about 61,000 square miles (158,000 km2) of forest in 2017 — an area the size of Bangladesh.
Satellite reports state that tropical forests are being cleared at a staggering rate of 8 million hectares per year. Size-wise, it is about the extent of the Czech Republic!
There are many side effects of deforestation like floods, soil erosion, extinction of wildlife, global warming, and climate change.
52% of all the land used for food production today is reasonably or severely impacted by soil erosion.
There’s an estimation that within 100 years rainforests will no longer exist.
Every second ½ acres of forest is cut down.
The United States has less than 5% of the world’s population yet consumes more than 30% of the world’s paper.
The home of half of all the plant and animal species in the world are tropical rainforests which cover 6-7% of the earth’s surface.
By the next quarter of the century up to 28,000 species are expected to become extinct as a result of deforestation.
Deforestation in Rio de Janerio
The water cycle is affected by deforestation. Trees absorb groundwater and discharge it into the atmosphere during transpiration. Deforestation automatically changes the climate to a drier one and affects the water cycle.
The South American rainforest affects regional and perhaps even global water cycles, and it’s crucial for the water supply in Brazilian cities and neighboring countries.
The Amazon helps supply water to some of the soy farmers and beef ranchers who are clearing the forest.
There are many other effects that we can’t foresee that can occur with the loss of clean water and biodiversity from all forests, affecting even our morning coffee.
Forest fires, bulldozers and machetes clear 4,500 acres of forests every hour.