Deforestation is a form of land pollution where an area which used to have trees or vegetation no longer does. For instance, forests may be cut down in order to make use of the wood harvested from the trees or an area of land which had vegetation on it may be cleared out in order to make room for other man made structures such as farms or stores. In the Earth’s history there have been periods of time where there was a lot of vegetation and periods of time with less. In fact, human evolution is believed to have occurred when the jungles in Africa started to lose vegetation and turn into the savannas that we know today. While deforestation could occur naturally, humans have sped up the process to a level where it has a large amount of negative implications for our world. In fact, it is estimated that we have lost somewhere around 50% of our original forests.
Some of the common methods of deforestation are:
Perhaps the biggest cause is agriculture. Trees are being cut down in order to make room for farmland and livestock. To support our large population, a lot of land is necessary to build these large commercial agricultural operations.
Another agricultural reason for deforestation, subsistence farming plays a huge role in deforestation because, due to overpopulation, a lot of people require farms in order to feed themselves. Of course, to make room for the farms, trees need to be cut down.
Many companies don’t have a regard for ethics and before laws were put into place to create preserves, these companies simply would cut down large areas of land to harvest the wood as a resource.
This is a very clear cut and obvious cause. with over 7 billion people on the planet, we simply had to cut down trees to make room.
While deforestation can’t be viewed as all bad, and in a sense was necessary to sustain our large population, these are some of the negative side effects of deforestation:
Firstly, deforestation caused by humans causes species to go extinct at a very fast rate. Since humans have cut down trees without considering the ecological implications of doing so, areas which were very rich in biodiversity have lost many or all of their species. Ruining the ecology of a certain area and lowering biodiversity causes a chain reaction which ultimately ends up hurting all the species in the area. When biodiversity is lowered and species go extinct, this can impact humans because a lot of the medicines we use today are found in the very forests we are destroying.
Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere
Plants are responsible for converting carbon dioxide into oxygen and therefore deforestation plays an important role in global warming. Deforestation is a major cause of climate change because it causes there to be too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Rainforests in particular supply a very large amount of the world’s oxygen and there are a lot of efforts to conserve them for this reason.
Removing trees causes soil to erode at a much faster rate. The nutrient richness of the soil goes down and so does agricultural productivity. Ultimately when vegetation can’t grow anymore, this leads to desertification.
The main causes of deforestation (subsistence farming, commercial agriculture, commercial logging, urbanization and overpopulation) are all interconnected. Because we have so many people, we need to clear land in order to grow food to feed and house them. All of this requires resources in the form of food and wood, but the resources we have on this planet are finite. We need to focus on controlling our population, agricultural methods, and land destruction.