What Is Deforestation? | Causes and Effects of Deforestation
Do you know what deforestation is? What is the definition of deforestation and why this is happening? Let’s discuss what are the causes and effects of deforestation, as well as what modifications can be adopted to stop it.
What Is Deforestation?
Deforestation can be defined as the cutting of trees as a result of human activities for personal needs. It refers to the global reduction of forest areas that are used for other purposes, such as agriculture, urbanization, or mining.
Deforestation, which has been caused by human activities since the 1960s, has had a negative impact on the environment, biodiversity, and climate. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that the annual deforestation rate is 1.3 million kilometers per year.
Why Is Deforestation Happening? Causes of Deforestation:
Deforestation is caused by many factors, human or natural. Natural causes include natural wildfires or pathogens that can cause deforestation. However, human activities are major contributors to global level cutting of trees . According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), agricultural expansion is responsible for about 80% of global deforestation, with infrastructure construction such as roads or dams, mining and urbanization accounting for the rest.
1.Agriculture- Number 1 Cause of Deforestation (~80%)
Why does deforestation continue? According to FAO, agriculture accounts for 80% of deforestation. And how did cutting down trees lead to agriculture? According to the same report, subsistence agriculture accounts for 33% of deforestation due to agriculture, such as urban agriculture in developing countries.
Up to 40% of forests are lost due to commercial or industrial activities (products and livestock) – in search of places to grow food, fiber or crops (e.g. soy, palm, beef, rice, corn, cotton and sugar). This will be quite interesting that cattle are responsible for 14% of deforestation in all over the world. Livestock and food agriculture (based on soybeans) are the main reasons for the large area.
2 New Constructions- Cause of Deforestation
The building of human infrastructure has also fueled causes of it. Only 10% of deforestation is attributed to new infrastructure supporting life in ways like: transport, transformation and energy production.
On the one hand, roads, railways, ports or airports are built to transport all types of goods – from grains and fruits to spices, minerals or fossil fuels – directly to shopping malls or processing sites. Thus, while before there were only fruit trees, roads soon arrived to allow the fruit to be transported to other areas.
And while some goods were and are harvested by hand, others such as coal, oil, natural gas, biomass, but also meat, dairy products or alcohol, required the construction of large extraction, transport and/or processing infrastructures.
3. How Urbanization Is Causing Deforestation (~5%)
Deforestation also contributes to the displacement of people from rural to urban areas due to demographic change (5% according to FAO). This growth in urban areas, where 68% of the world’s population is expected to live in cities by 2050, will lead to exponential growth in the housing and consumer sectors. And as cities grow to accommodate more people, they challenge the natural boundaries around them, often leading to deforestation.
How Does Deforestation Affect The Environment?
Deforestation has a major impact on the natural environment and poses a major challenge to global development. To better understand why flying is bad, let’s look at the impact of deforestation
Effects on Biodiversity
The most well-known consequence of deforestation is the threat to biodiversity. In fact, forests are one of the true centers of biodiversity. The forest is home to many rare and endangered species, from mammals to birds, insects, amphibians, and plants. 80% of terrestrial animals and plants live in forests.
When forests are destroyed, human activities threaten entire ecosystems, creating natural imbalances and threatening livelihoods. The natural world is complex, interconnected, and made up of thousands of interdependent elements. Among other things, trees provide shade and cooler temperatures for animals, while small trees or shrubs cannot tolerate direct sunlight. In addition, trees also feed animals with their fruits, providing food and shelter for them to survive.
Healthy forests support the livelihoods of 1.6 billion people worldwide, including one billion of the world’s poor. This means that many people depend on forests for survival and use them for hunting and gathering resources for small-scale agricultural systems.
But in developing countries such as Borneo, Indonesia, Vietnam, Brazil or Mexico, land systems are weak. This allows large companies to acquire these lands and use them for other purposes, harming the livelihoods of local people.
Therefore, the community must choose between the two. They may decide to leave “their” country and go somewhere else, escaping conflict and accepting the challenge of a new and different life. Or they may live and work in companies that poach remote farmlands, often for unfair wages and inhumane working conditions. In some countries, such as Mexico, farmers are often forced to share profits with local organizations to keep their families alive and prevent field fires.
Today, 52 percent of all land used for food production is affected to some degree by soil erosion. In the long term, a lack of good and nutritious soil can lead to low yields and nutritional deficiencies.
Are people doing their best to prevent deforestation?
What is being done now to prevent deforestation? Every day attempts are made to replant damaged areas. Unfortunately, some trees are planted with the goal of growing fast-growing trees for the logging industry to use in a short period of time. They usually consist of monocultures (less resistant, more attractive to harmful environmental management practices) such as eucalyptus or pine. That is no small effort: according to the FAO, these crops cover 1.3 million km2 worldwide.
At the same time, efforts are being made to halt deforestation through greener management practices, thanks to forest conservation NGOs, eco-villages, UN initiatives and working groups, and national governments such as New Zealand.
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