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Deforestation: Causes and Effects

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Biology
Wordcount: 3159 words Published: 21st May 2018

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Deforestation has always been a resourceful means of keeping the economy moving to many in different parts of the world. However, over time it has been proven that deforestation has been responsible for the destruction of many societies and wildlife that have existed in past centuries. If Deforestation persists, today’s global society and wildlife will suffer the same fate as societies and wildlife back in the early centuries. Listed are the causes for deforestation, the consequences of deforestation, and the arguments for people who support deforestation, and the benefits of forests.

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The causes of deforestation are regarded by many industrialists as being justifiable. Industrialization has been defined by some as a means to accommodate society, in regards to population growth. Since the mid-nineteenth century worldwide deforestation has sharply accelerated, approximately one half of the Earth’s mature tropical forests have now been cleared. To provide for constant population growth, governments have authorized urbanization as a means to justify deforestation due to the growth in population. Industrial globalization is responsible for the creation of cities, roads, or highways, healthcare facilities, businesses, dams, power lines, mines, gas and oil fields, canals, ports, and logging zones. Agricultural expansion has been known worldwide as one of the many causes of deforestation and as another means to sustain population growth. Statistically, agriculture in poor countries are responsible for 80% of deforestation; and commercial logging is responsible for only 14% of deforestation; removal of charcoal and other fuel woods comprise less than 6% of deforestation.

Agriculture has been known to provide access to many natural resources to sustain societies. During prehistoric deforestation, burning down forests were a method for clearing land for crop growth, as well as, converting more deforested lands into ecosystems to hunt animals, such as red deer and wild boar. During the Neolithic period, around 3000 B.C., extensive deforestation for agriculture was used to create stone axes from flint and hard rocks. Flint was utilized for harvesting timber and the mines in Europe. Today many resources gained from deforestation are lumber-teak, rosewood, mahogany, (which produce glue, paper, furniture, charcoal, fuel woods, and houses), iron ore, minerals, oil deposits, palm oil (which is used in food, cooking oil, soaps, detergents, cosmetics, and plastics), soybeans, and sugar (sugar and palm oil are used for the production of bio-fuels as a replacement to gasoline). The production of beef creates the necessity for deforestation to raise cattle to meet fast food restaurant demands.

Many industrialist, governments, and individuals do not realize are the implications, or consequences of deforestation. Deforestation can cause numerous ecosystems, as well as, environmental issues that can be detrimental to wildlife and humans. A new study showed that deforestation in the Amazon helps spread disease by creating an optimal environment for malaria carrying Mosquitoes (Hance, J., 2010). Similar studies showed that clearing forests in the Brazilian Amazon raised the malaria spread by 50 percent (Hance, J., 2010).

Numerous biodiversities are affected by deforestation. In a recent study it was discovered that only two kinds of species of stingless bees have the ability to survive deforestation, while the rest would become extinct if they were made to adapt to deforestation (Bartley, G. Wildlife and Deforestation). Ring-tailed Lemurs are monkeys that live in Madagascar. However, because of Madagascar’s growing population, deforestation in this land causes the destruction to the Ring-tailed Lemur’s habitat. New species of animals and plants are still being discovered to this day. In Papua New Guinea, 44 new species of animals were recently discovered in the forests (Shah, A., 2010). In East Java, deforestation threatens numerous rare animals, such as the Javan hawk eagle, silvery gibbon, Javan Langur, Sunda slow loris, Javan surili, Javan rhinoceros, and other rare species (International Rhino Foundation, 2010). Writer Taylor L. provides the following facts for consideration – “a single pond in Brazil can sustain a greater variety of fish than is found in all of Europe’s rivers. A 25-acre plot of rainforest in Borneo may contain more than 700 species of trees – a number equal to the total tree diversity of North America. A single rainforest reserve in Peru is home to more species of birds than are found in the entire United States. One single tree in Peru was found to harbor forty-three different species of ants – a total that approximates the entire number of ant species in the British Isles. The number of species of fish in the Amazon exceeds the number found in the entire Atlantic Ocean” (Taylor L. Rainforest Facts). The importance of biodiversity in the forests appears to be meaningless to most. However, recent studies have shown that life in the forests keep, both our environment and ecosystem balanced. Annihilation or extinction of any species from deforestation could have a dangerous impact on humanity if the loss of biodiversity continues.

Other environmental factors are affected by deforestation. Degraded soil is another consequence of deforestation. When soil becomes degraded because of deforestation, this makes farming and cattle ranching impossible. Climate change is another result of deforestation. For example, in Tanzania, South Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro, (Africa’s highest mountain), has an ice cap that is hypothesized to disappear around the year 2033. Manson K. (2003), states in his article that many scientists believe the forest is the key element to this possibility, because over the past 30 to 40 years forests on Mount Kilimanjaro have disappeared on the lower slopes, cut down by villagers for charcoal and open farmland, causing a rise in temperature on the mountain (Manson, K., 2003). According to Hogan, Michael C. (2010) “Climate change relates to the carbon sink reductions engendered by deforestation, which long term effects have contributed to the buildup of atmospheric carbon dioxide (Hogan, Michael C., 2010). The natural habitats of many species are affected by the results of deforestation as stated earlier with the spread of malaria. A definition of habitat is the geographical unit that effectively supports the survival and reproduction of a given species or of individuals of a given species (Hogan, Michael C., 2010). As a result of deforestation, other wildlife species are forced to adapt to new habitats once theirs is lost, which could be dangerous to mankind if the new habitats of hostile wildlife (panthers, snakes, Malaria carrying mosquitoes) were within a town, or city. This consequence to plant and wildlife species can also result into Habitat fragmentation, which is defined by Hogan, Michael C. (2010), as an alteration of habitat resulting in a spatial separation of habitat units from a previous state of greater continuity, is caused by agricultural land conversion, urbanization, pollution, and deforestation (Hogan, Michael C., 2010). Species richness, in turn can be affected by habitat fragmentation, which would cause the number of species that are balanced in an ecosystem to become uneven in number, extinct, or brought into conflict between other species in order for survival, food, or dominance of a habitat. Increased carbon dioxide will result if deforestation continually persists. Since mankind needs trees to feed humanity oxygen, after they are totally eliminated off the face of the Earth, mankind would surely become extinct, as a result of carbon dioxide poisoning. Surface runoffs can result after deforestation. Surface runoffs is when the soil is infiltrated to full capacity and excess water, from rain, snowmelt, or other sources flow over lands – Hogan, Michael C (2010). The numerous trees that make up forests feed off the water that enters the soil. If the tree are removed all the excess water, which can be consumed by trees will flood over the land, in turn harming both plant life and wildlife species alike, as well as spread disease, such as malaria. There are numerous natural causes of deforestation that are unavoidable, such as catastrophic forest fires, volcanic eruptions, stand wind throw from hurricanes, drought, changes in local climate, or rainfall regimes, and insect spread prevention. These natural factors represent only a small fraction of observed deforestation worldwide.

Many supporters of deforestation argue that deforestation feeds our economy, and is being used as a means to mitigate unemployment, or recessions. Today societies benefit from deforestation as a means to support themselves, and/or their families. Employment usually revolves around the use of lumber. Wood cutters, those who work in the processing plants to make glue from wood sap, process pulp into paper, farmers, construction workers, architects, and people who are employed by the government to seed an open patch of land to re-grow a forest. The Lumber products are a resource necessary for building homes, boats, railroads, furniture, glue, paper, telephone poles, bridges, dams, and fires during the winter. A few supporters believe that deforestation is the solution to prevent global warming. For example, one source who supports deforestation claims that cutting down trees will help lower temperatures. Research from Professor Govindasamy Bala, of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, in California states that removing all of the world’s trees might actually cool the planet down. Conversely, adding trees everywhere might warm it up. This theory was discovered when Dr. Bala and his colleagues used a computer model called the Integrated Climate and Carbon Model to calculate the representation of how the carbon cycle (photosynthesis and its consequences) works, and how it influences the climate. When Dr. Bala ordered global clear cutting from the model calculated that the atmosphere’s carbon-dioxide levels would roughly double by 2100. This would paradoxically, make for a colder planet. That is because brighter high latitudes would reflect more sunlight in winter, cooling the local environment by as much as 6°C. The tropics would warm up, since they would be less cloudy, but not by enough to produce a net global heat gain. Overall, Dr Bala’s model suggests that complete deforestation would cause an additional 1.3°C temperature rise because of the higher carbon-dioxide levels that would result. However, the additional reflectivity of the planet would cause 1.6°C of cooling. A treeless world would thus, as he reports in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, be 0.3°C cooler than otherwise. In another claim that supports deforestation is to prevent the spread of pine beetles. Although, this is a more justifiable means of deforestation as a means to prevent the elimination of other trees from these types of beetles, which are usually found in Montana, which burrow into lodge pole, ponderosa and other pine species and lay eggs in the soft layer just under the bark. When the larvae hatch, they eat the layer and essentially cut off the tree’s circulatory system, killing it. Red-and-dead trees can pose safety hazards if they burn or topple. Many droughts cause farmers to cut down their orchards before the trees die, to protect other trees and crops from getting bugs and diseases. Supporter of deforestation believe that numerous rainforest activists are exaggerating their resources of deforestation out of possible fear of losing government funding. For example, research conducted by NASA, the University of New Hampshire, and the University of Maryland claim the actual rate of deforestation is about one-fifth of the 42 million acres per year brought up many activists condemning deforestation. Another example is that many opponents of deforestation claim that slash and burn of lands for agricultural purposes is done more than logging in rainforests. The Free Library by Farlex, cites that research from the organization Greenpeace calculated that forestry was responsible for 2 percent of the forest depletion in Brazil, 9 percent in Indonesia, zero in Cameroon and 6 percent in all other major tropical countries. Another study from this library states – “that industries are responsible for many of the programs aimed at improved forest management selectively harvesting trees, industries planting many more trees, training forest managers, employ tens of millions of workers (who might otherwise be clearing forests for farms) throughout the developing world, and provides education and other benefits for workers and for local communities. Contrary to what some of the activist groups would have people believe? If consumers boycott these products, there would be a serious reduction in wood use, the incentive to provide these benefits would disappear in the dust of poor people clearing forests” (The Free Library by Farlex). Finally supporters believe forests provide a wide array of goods and services In economics, economic output is divided into physical goods and intangible services. Consumption of goods and services is assumed to produce utility (unless the “good” is a “bad”). It is often used when referring to a Goods and Services Tax. , including wood and wood products, home and shelter for many species, and oxygen production and carbon dioxide carbon dioxide,chemical compound, CO2, a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is about one and one-half times as dense as air under ordinary conditions of temperature and pressure. absorption. Supporters believe that our planet needs the forests, and that our children of the present and future need the forests, and that wood production industries will allow them to grow healthy forests for the succession of industries. Industries have also Vested Interest

A financial or personal stake one entity has in an asset, security, or transaction.


For example, if you have a mortgage, your bank has a vested interest on the sale of your house.

See also: Right made great progress in improving forest management as a means to preserve the forests.

The benefits of forests are countless. For starters forests are the primary reason why life on Earth is still living. As stated earlier, without the trees in the forests that exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen on a daily basis, all life on Earth would die. Forests are also the homes to numerous food sources that permit the survival of mankind. Fruit, such as avocados, coconuts, figs, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, bananas, guavas, pineapples, mangos and tomatoes; vegetables including corn, potatoes, rice, winter squash and yams; spices like black pepper, cayenne, chocolate, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, sugar cane, turmeric, coffee and vanilla and nuts including Brazil nuts and cashews are some of the many foods that allow mankind to survive, which are also provided by forests. According to Taylor L., Rainforest Facts, “there are 121 prescription drugs currently sold worldwide come from plant-derived sources. The U.S. National Cancer Institute has identified 3000 plants that are active against cancer cells. 70% of these plants are found in the rainforest”. Rainforest plants are rich in secondary metabolites, such as alkaloids, which are believed to protect plants from disease and insect attacks, and are useful for pharmaceutical purposes. Vincristine, and Periwinkle are two of the most widely used drugs that are derived from plants that have been used to combat cancer, particularly childhood leukemia. Researchers believe that the Amazon rainforest contains the largest collection of living plant and animal species in the world. The diversity of plant species in the Amazon rainforest is the highest on Earth. It is estimated that the Amazon rainforest contains a total of 2400 plants, including more than 750 types of trees. Information from Taylor L., Rainforest Facts states “the Andean mountain range and the Amazon jungle are home to more than half of the world’s species of flora and fauna; in fact, one in five of all the birds in the world live in the rainforests of the Amazon. To date, some 438,000 species of plants of economic and social interest have been registered in the region, and many more have yet to be catalogued or even discovered”. This information is proof that the solution for survival on Earth is dependable on the preservation of forests.

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The forests are also homes to many indigenous people. Indigenous people have lived in the forests for centuries. Many indigenous people are few in numbers compared to the early centuries due Western and European cultures exploiting many indigenous tribes for slavery. In the 1500s it was estimated that the Brazilian rainforests had an occupation of 6 to 9 million indigenous people. In the 1900s research indicated that Brazil’s Amazon is the home to about 1 million indigenous people compared to the 6 to 9 million in the 1500s. Today there are about 250,000 indigenous people living in the forests. Research suggests that there might be 50 or more indigenous groups that have not made contact with the outside world. Today many indigenous tribes are faced with global industrialization instead of slavery, which will not only destroy the forests they use to survive, but also their culture. Throughout the centuries, indigenous people have developed skills and resources that have allowed them to live on the land, such as farming, hunting, gathering, and developing a sustainable relationship with the forest they inhabit. The medicine men and shamans are considered to be traditional encyclopedias on numerous plant species medical use. They pass on this knowledge to the next medicine as a means of preserving and retaining knowledge. If we begin to destroy the forests not only do we destroy the lived of Indigenous tribes, but the possible knowledge they may know involving cures for numerous diseases attained from plant life.

Today it is hard to prioritize one of the main sources of the world’s survival compared to all of mankind’s daily needs and wants. However, if the consequences of deforestation continue to persist, then all the benefits the forests provide will no longer be able sustain life both for mankind and biodiversity. Many societies from the past have been through these consequences; let’s prevent the same mistakes from the past for not just the sake of the present, but for the sake of the future generations of societies and biodiversity.


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