Deforestation: History, Causes, Effects, and Solutions

History of deforestation

It is a bad misconception for one to think that deforestation began just some few years ago. It began when the humans first occupied the earth and started using fire. Very many years ago, the earth was filled with thousands of acres with trees. Natural calamities like fire as well as cultivated human activities contributed towards deforestation. Deforestation is the removal of trees or simply thinning of forests. Forest destruction was for the purpose of human use like; making wood products and carrying out agricultural practices. Trees are removed for the purpose of creation of croplands as well as for the sake of logging. All these actions contributed towards deforestation.  Boreal forests were evident as in the case of Scandinavia and Northern Canada as well as two million square kilometers of tropical forest. The rest were temperate forests evident in North America, Western Europe and Eastern China. Some parts of these forests were destroyed by natural calamities like fire, which occurred when an electronic plate hit the earth at a devastating speed. The fire broke up leading to deforestation of huge areas of land and deaths of many extinct animals like the dinosaurs occurred.  Despite the natural calamities that destroyed many forests, human beings are the main cause of deforestation.   

Causes of deforestation

Agriculture

 Deforestation is mostly bound to occur as a result of agriculture, the use of fuel and also its production. Agriculture is one of the key drivers of deforestation both in the ancient as well as in the modern times. Large forests that were once covered with trees have now been cut down by humans who are striving to secure places to practices agricultural activities. Nature reclaimed some agricultural lands. However, the biodiversity which was originally evident in such lands is currently not present at all. The biodiversity has been replaced by faster-growing crops which are currently evident in such lands. It is clearly prudent that subsistence farming has accounted for 48 percent deforestation rate. People are interested in making sure that they carry out farming activities and, in turn, they end up destroying forests to facilitate such activities (Richard 10). On the other side, commercial agriculture has also contributed to 32 percent of deforestation rate. Some of the efficient agricultural systems and practices lead to nutrient loss resulting from the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). The GMO present in most of these agricultural activities leads to the loss of large vegetation leading to deforestation.

Growing and expansion of populations

The tremendous increase of people in the world has spearheaded deforestation activities to take place. Human beings are highly populated in the world and have mostly depended on agriculture for survival. It is due to this reason as to why they end up destroying chunks of trees to secure a place to practice agriculture. People are expanding, and they also want to secure places to build houses to live. Due to such reasons, deforestation takes place. Increased population has led to urbanisation where people are moving from rural areas to urban centres where they can secure white collar jobs. Urbanisation has led to many forms of pollution due to high population; hence, leading to deforestation activities across many parts of the globe.  The rapid expansion of human population is a key cause of deforestation in the world as it contributes to the high use of forest resources (Richard 12).

Mining

The mining activities taking place in most areas of the world have contributed to the depletion of forest just for the sake of the mining activities to take place. Forest cover is mostly removed to enable mining tracks to have ways to pass and also for the mined equipment’s to be transported to the required areas respectively (Jorge & Krisztina, 440).   

Fires

Fires which have taken place from time to time either indented or un-indented lead to deforestation. Fires destroy acres of land leading to high rates of deforestation. Some beetles that die during winter can’t survive and can’t continue eating from trees after the fire has occurred as the trees are now burned down (Jorge & Krisztina 450). The feeding tends to make the remaining trees die out and the beetles die as well as there is no food left for them to eat.  

Effects of deforestation

Desertification

Desertification is the transformation of fertile land into deserts. Most areas which are currently termed as desert are as a result of deforestation activities that took place in such areas many years ago. Desertification played a big role in the fall of big empires that existed in the past. The Ancient Greece, Roman Empire and Harappan civilisations fall was as a result of desertification that resulted from deforestation activities. There was a change in climate which led to a lack of rain and such areas became deserts leading to huge losses (Gregmar  & Suzette 68). Forest contributes to the attraction of rainfall and once they are destroyed, deserts tend to emerge. Limited watering of the land and overgrazing activities carried by human beings leads to desertification. Soil erosion will tend to take place in such areas leading to high runoffs and decreased rainfall retention. The ability of people residing in such areas to irrigate the remaining vegetation goes down, leading to desert formation.

Extinction and biodiversity loss

Deforestation is the cause of extinction of different species in different parts of the globe. The extinction of such animals took place in the past and is still taking place in the current world. No matter how a deforested area is highly reforested, it still cannot regain its original biodiversity state. It is due to the disappearance of the original forests that many animals have gone extinct in the world. For the ones that remain alive, they lose a great deal of their genetic diversity and variations (Gregmar & Suzette 70). Due to this factor, loss implications are evident in the agricultural industries as well as in the medical sector. Most disease and pest resistant crops have been lost due to biodiversity loss. Crops lack the genetic diversity; hence, the reason as to why they lead to many diseases once taken inside the human body.  Loss of genetic diversity has led to the loss of greater world species, which could best be used in addressing future outbreaks of increased resilience and diseases. It is evaluated that the world is losing around 137 plants every day, suggesting that around 50,000 types of plants are getting wiped out every year as a consequence of deforestation.

Soil erosion

Deforestation has led to increased rate of soils erosion in most parts of the world.  Increased runoffs and ground debris have contributed to increased soil erosion in the world. The increased aridity of unprotected soils has also contributed to soils erosion activities to take place. Deforestation has led to an absence of vegetation and roots that help to hold the soil intact and prevent it from being eroded (Carlos, Richard, & Michael 805). The rich topsoil is now lying at the bottom of the sea in most parts of the globe where it has been eroded. The land is depleted off its nutrients due to the high demand for food and resource facilitating soil erosion to take place. Deforested hillsides tend to have a high rate of runoffs and silt rate is increased in agricultural areas.

Atmospheric change/ greenhouse effect

Deforestation has contributed drastically to the climate change as well as geographical change. The modern anthropogenic climate change is as a result of deforestation that has been taking place over the past years. It is clearly evident that deforestation is responsible for the current greenhouse gas emissions, which amounts to 20%. There are a few plants and trees as required, which should uptake the carbon dioxide released into the air by the greenhouses. The few plants present in the world cannot take in all the gasses emitted, and this contributes to the spread of these harmful gases in the environment (Carlos, Richard, & Michael 813). They are very harmful, and they end up destroying the ozone layers. Depletion of the ozone layer by these harmful gases leads to climate change, and the effect of the sun is highly felt in the world.  High sun effect lead to melting of the ice pillars in both the north and south poles leading to global warming, which is currently a great concern to the whole world. Reduced vegetation and ground covers lead to drying of the soil, and lower rainfall is felt as well.  

Current status of deforestation

The deforestation status in the world is too high. Most of the landowners and big corporations in the world are clearing forests. They are aiming at securing development areas. Brazil is the country with the largest percent of the forest as it has the Amazon forest which is the largest in the whole world. The status of the Amazon forest is not as good as it ought to be. Land clearing is taking place with the aim of getting places to carry out pasture activities (Naing Zaw, Nobuya & Shigejiro 430). People have speculative interest, and this is contributing to the reduction of Amazon forests. The decline of the forest has occurred at the same time when Brazil is experiencing an increase in its economic benefits of about 40%. The agricultural outputs have surged as a result of deforestation in the country.    

Solutions to Deforestation

Reforestation

There are different solutions that have been sought to curb the deforestation issue in the world. Some of the strategies include reforestation measures that are taking place in most areas of the world. Curbing the feeling of trees through employing different types of rules that will govern their maintenance will help in reduction of deforestation activities. When trees are replanted, they will help recover the beauty of nature. Rainfall will not be minimal, and desertification will be stopped. It doesn’t matter how reforestation will take place, but the key aspect is that it must be done to save the depleting ozone layer (Eduardo & Emilio 70). Governments will have to save money for use in reforestation activities. Even though the money that will be used will be a lot, but it is lesser compared to the effects of deforestation felt currently and in the future. All the older trees cut ought to be replaced with younger trees. These young trees will help reduce global warming effect in the world. However, the newly planted trees cannot fully replace the functions of the earlier trees, but it is necessary for them to be planted.  

Banning of tree cutting  

Clear cutting of forest must be banned to stop the deforestation activities from taking place anymore. Measures ought to be instilled in place to punish any person who is found guilty of cutting a tree. Trees must never be cut as such an act erodes the nature of our surroundings. Cutting of trees is something that can be controlled very easily (Deepak 780). Campaigns to enlighten people on the importance of trees are conducted in various parts of the globe to make people understand the true meaning of nature and its benefits to both humans and the animals.

Conclusion

            There is a high need for deforestation activities to be stopped with an immediate effect. They are not yielding to good results at all as the global warming effect is increasing on daily basis. Natural calamities like fire as well as cultivated human activities contributed towards deforestation. Deforestation is as a result of many reasons like; Growing and expansion of populations, natural calamities example fire, mining and agricultural practices. Human population is increasing on a daily basis leading to the clearing of forests with the aim of carrying out agricultural activities. Some people are destroying the forest to builds houses. The current status of deforestation in the world is too high, and many forests have been depleted. Various effects of deforestation are inclusive of extinction and biodiversity loss, desertification, soils erosion and atmospheric change as well as the greenhouse effect. Depletion of the ozone layer by these harmful gases leads to climate change, and the effect of the sun is highly felt in the world. Different deforestation solutions include; reforestation programs and banning of tree cutting among others.    

 

Work Cited

Carlos, Mena., Richard, Bilsborrow., & Michael, Mcclain. Socioeconomic Drivers of Deforestation in the Northern Ecuadorian Amazon. Environmental Management37.6: 802-15. 2006

Deepak, Ray. Dry season precipitation over the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor is more sensitive to deforestation than to greenhouse gas driven climate change. Climatic Change119.3-4:775-783. 2013

Eduardo, Brondizio., & Emilio, Moran. FLevel-dependent deforestation trajectories in the Brazilian Amazon from 1970 to 2001. Population and Environment34.1: 69-85.2012

Gregmar, Galinato & Suzette, Galinato. The effects of corruption control, political stability and economic growth on deforestation-induced carbon dioxide emissions. Environment and Development Economics17.1: 67-90. 2012

Jorge, Hargarave., & Krisztina, Kis-Katos. Economic Causes of Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon: A Panel Data Analysis for the 2000s.  Environmental and Resource Economics54.4: 471-494. 2013

Naing Zaw, Htun.,  Nobuya, Mizoue., & Shigejiro, Yoshida. Changes in Determinants of Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Popa Mountain Park, Central Myanmar. Environmental Management51.2: 423-34. 2013

Richard, Culas. Causes of Deforestation and Policies for Reduced Emissions (REDD+): A Cross-Country Analysis. IUP Journal of Applied Economics13.4: 7-27. 2014

 

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