We define deforestation as the irreversible loss of forest vegetation, while tree removal can also include those that are not necessarily lost forever.
If you look around, you will probably find furniture made of wood and paper on your desk. Some countries that promote forest conservation also sustainably grow trees that are cut down to produce these wood products. The trees go away temporarily as they eventually grow in well-organized cycles. This process is called forestry and accounts for about 26% of annual tree cuttings.
Deforestation as An Environmental Problem
Deforestation contributes to the acceleration of global warming. When trees are cut down or burned, they release into the atmosphere the carbon dioxide stored inside them. Forests act like sponges and store 15 percent of all greenhouse gases, so losing them certainly doesn’t help. Another way they contribute to climate change is by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
When it comes to water, trees also play a key role in this cycle. Rain gets soaked up by its roots and then gets released into the air as vapor. They also reduce water pollution by holding back polluted runoff.
You would think that cutting down trees would reduce rainfall, but sometimes, it can actually have the opposite effect. Creating heat islands can increase precipitation by promoting the creation of clouds and rain.
Removing trees also has an effect on soil erosion, which can contaminate bodies of water such as lakes and streams. It can also flood soil and decrease local water quality, which can negatively impact nearby communities.
Wood is expensive, which makes it valuable. That’s why the problem of deforestation is a difficult one to solve. People don’t realize how important forests are to our lives.
Reasons for Cutting Down Trees
People cut down trees and forests in different places around the world. This is because they need space to build cities or for agriculture, mining, and energy. This mainly occurs in large tropical forests, such as in the Amazon, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Agriculture is the main reason. Forest loss in tropical countries is approximately equal to the land used for agriculture.
Why do people agree to such actions despite the known negative consequences? Let’s look at the main motives for deforestation:
- There is a need for wood for construction and furniture production.
- Providing fuel for heating residential premises.
- Wood pulp is used in paper production.
- Meeting the needs of agricultural land and construction.
- Production of chemicals.
- Creation of various products such as children’s toys, musical instruments, and household items.
- Additionally, tree cutting can also be caused by fires, and unfortunately, most of these fires around the world are the result of human activities carried out for economic gain.
Illegality of Deforestation
People can be punished for illegal tree-cutting according to the laws of their country. However, in some places in the world, there are not enough special organizations and funds to control this process properly.
Consequences of Deforestation
It should be understood that the loss of forests will create many problems for nature because trees absorb gas that warms our planet. When trees disappear, this gas remains in the atmosphere and makes the planet warmer.
In addition, forests are home to animals and plants. Rainforests, for example, are places where many different species live. And when they are cut down, the ecosystem collapses, and species disappear. This happens, for example, when crops are grown for palm oil, replacing tree diversity with palm monocultures.
Deforestation also affects the climate, nature, and our lives. This leads to decreased air quality, climate change, and other problems. Here are some of the negative consequences that deforestation causes:
- Decreasing oxygen released by trees due to deforestation. Forests play an important role in purifying the air.
- An increase in carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere is accompanied by global warming.
- Declining biological diversity due to the gradual loss of forests and, therefore, living organisms.
- The spread of desertification and the formation of swamps. Trees not only retain the fertile layer of soil but also help prevent excessive soil moisture.
- Increased greenhouse effect and climate change are considered the most serious consequences of deforestation. Forests actively regulate climate and mitigate its impacts.
The Problem of Deforestation And Ways to Solve It
Reducing deforestation can be achieved through the creation of alternative methods so that forests do not have to be destroyed. For example, many people cut down forests to expand land for agriculture because it brings in money. However, if we use sustainable farming methods or new technologies, we may not need as much land for farming.
Forests can also be restored by planting trees in cleared areas or simply by giving them time to regenerate themselves. Restoration’s main goal is to revert a forest back as if no one ever touched it. The sooner this is done, the better for nature. Wildlife will come back; the water will get cleaner, the air more breathable, and the soil will be more liveable.
Each person plays an important role in dismantling deforestation. It can be as simple as buying products that are made from sustainable wood, using less paper, or avoiding products with palm oil – even planting trees will help.
However, it should be noted that this isn’t only our responsibility. Solving it requires efforts from world leaders and our planet’s inhabitants as a whole. To solve this problem, we need to apply different approaches altogether. Here are some strategic directions:
- Development of forest resource management plans.
- Strengthening measures to protect and control the use of natural resources.
- Creation of a system for monitoring and recording the state of forest resources.
- Improvement of legislation in the field of forestry.
- Gradually increase the area of tree planting.
- Create protected areas with strict rules for the use of forest resources.
- Pay attention to preventing forest fires.
- Promote wood recycling.
Planting new trees is often not enough to fully compensate for losses, especially in regions of South America and Africa where forest areas continue to decline despite measures taken.