Deforestation has many consequences that have impacted the world in a big way. The people who are most affected by it are those who live in the deepest parts of the jungle.
Indigenous communities depend on the forests for more than just wood. They use it for everything, and it’s even a key piece of their culture.
When we talk about cutting down trees, we forget how it’ll affect them. Life is already hard enough; this makes it even harder. Not only will this disrupt them, but also their traditions and rituals. We need to find a way to stop deforestation without hurting anyone involved.
Deforestation’s Devastating Effects
Our planet is made up of a lot of land, and forests cover about a third. But we’re currently destroying them at such a fast pace that we might lose it all soon. A loss like this would be pretty bad because trees do an incredible job of managing carbon. They take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen, which then helps prevent global temperature from rising too quickly and creates essential oxygen for every life on earth.
Most bird species and land animals live in forests, too. Just to make matters worse, if we don’t learn to manage our forests better, deforestation will become catastrophic. One way to fix this problem is by being able to monitor the state of forests in real-time as much as possible.
What Causes Deforestation Problems?
Deforestation is a big problem that our planet faces, and it’s said to be critical. In order for us to solve this problem effectively, we’ll need to understand what causes it. Looking at these issues will help us develop strategies to keep our global ecosystems safe from harm.
Yearly, more forests get destroyed by fires than logging and agriculture together. This happens when we interfere with the fire cycle. Some ecosystems have adapted to and benefit from fire, while others remain vulnerable. And in that vulnerability is where the trouble starts. All it takes is a human-caused fire to cause catastrophic consequences for these vulnerable areas. On top of that, man-made wildfires are more frequent and stronger than natural fires. Each year, all of this leads to the condition of forests getting worse and worse.
Deforestation for Fields
The main causes of deforestation worldwide include logging and burning down forests for agriculture and other land uses. It’s important to remember our wants go far beyond just food, as well as the task of providing for an ever-growing population, which is difficult within itself. The high demand for products with palm oil, which is a big factor in everyday things like makeup, is one of the key players in tropical deforestation.
Unsustainable forest management
Even legal logging contributes to massive deforestation. The number of trees cut down by logging every year is greater than all the trees killed by natural causes. People benefit from forests in several ways, one being the use of its resources like wood and fuel. Unfortunately, it comes at a cost. Deforestation is a brutal process involving the complete destruction of the environment surrounding it. Another troubling thing is that sometimes trees are cut down just to make room for easier wood transportation. Illegal deforestation only makes a bad situation worse as it increases the damage humans have on the world and speeds up climate change on Earth.
Negative Effects of Deforestation
Climate change and deforestation go hand in hand. At least 15% of greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation. The life of trees depends on CO2.
So, when man goes out and chops them down, less oxygen is created, which also leads to more CO2 being released into the atmosphere.
Cutting down forests increases the concentration of carbon dioxide in two ways: it reduces the number of trees that could absorb carbon dioxide and releases carbon back into the atmosphere.
The increase in greenhouse gases, especially CO2, can raise global temperatures, ultimately influencing weather patterns.
Forest tree root systems are incredibly strong and vital for maintaining soil integrity. If deforestation becomes more popular, it’ll leave nothing behind for the soil to hold on to, which increases the risk of water and wind erosion.
Erosion then leads to unusable soil. Floods started becoming a regular thing, too. You may think it’s just some rainwater, but it can become quite dangerous with nowhere to go and a lack of stability.
This whole ripple effect will make its way into the lives of indigenous people. As the forest diminishes, so does their ability to eat, find shelter, and enjoy their land. It gets to a point where they’re forced to leave their homes just so they can survive.
Forests are made up of many plants and animals that work together like a team. They can’t live without each other. But when we cut down trees, the food chain gets screwed. Many species lose their homes, and some can go extinct.
Indigenous people who live in or near forests also get hit hard by deforestation. Their lives depend on the forest and the fertile soil it has. These people have to relocate and find a new home because of it.
Challenges Faced by Indigenous Communities Due to Deforestation
Deforestation is really bad for indigenous tribes. It presents them with a lot of challenges and consequences that mess up their way of life.
Loss of Traditional Land
For generations, indigenous communities have called forests their home. However, in recent years, deforestation and land clearing have led to them losing this home. Forests provided food for them and were used for shelter and cultural practices. When trees are cut down or the land is cleared for agriculture, it disrupts their way of life.
Impact on Livelihood
Indigenous people’s livelihoods rely on the forest. They use it for hunting, gathering, and farming. So when it is taken away from them, they lose a source of income and food security, which can lead to poverty.
The disturbance caused by deforestation affects more than just their way of life; it also exposes the community to health risks. The loss of natural medicine found in the forest makes it difficult to manage illnesses they come across. Additionally, it can lead to changes in climate and increase exposure to natural disasters.
Conflict and Forced Relocation
Deforestation often leads to confrontations with outsiders. Loggers or the government will sort out a land clearing permit, and this usually leaves the community with two options: leave peacefully or stay and fight. When they are forced to move, it’s to unfamiliar places with worse conditions.
Loss of Cultural Heritage
Losing a home is already hard. This difficulty multiplies when the forest means more than just shelter. In native communities, they hold traditions, spiritual practices, and stories in these woods. The day they lose their home, everything else could be next on the list of things to go.
How Indigenous Communities Cope with Deforestation?
Indigenous communities possess incredible resilience. Even when faced with deforestation, they find ways to adapt and cope. They do so by:
Preserving Traditional Knowledge
The forest holds a tremendous amount of knowledge that has been passed down through generations. This is the knowledge that’s been used to maintain their cultural identity. And while the forest may be changing, they hold on to it. Passing it down to future generations and adapting as necessary.
Diversification of Livelihood
Forests were once a major food and income source for indigenous communities. The threat of deforestation meant that they had to find alternatives quickly. However, being the resourceful people they are, this wasn’t an issue for them. They quickly found new ways to make money, such as ecotourism and sustainable agriculture.
Advocacy and Activism
An active participant in environmental activism, indigenous communities take action before it’s too late. They spread awareness about how deforestation impacts their daily lives and fight back the best way they can.
Partnerships and Conservation Initiatives
Collaborating with organizations with similar goals allows them to be stronger together. Sharing resources and knowledge on reforestation efforts helps mitigate the effects of deforestation.
Adaptation and Resilience
They understand the importance of having a healthy environment around them, so they take steps to make sure it’s preserved. This includes using old practices but also embracing new ones as long as they align with their values.
Legal and Policy Engagement
Working with governments can be difficult, but some indigenous communities go out of their way to ensure that their rights still exist today, especially because there are many cases of deforestation diving into protected areas, costing them basic land rights.