Deforestation: Part 1

First, this will be a subject divided up into three posts. Today is the subject itself and the causes, tomorrow the problem and tomorrow’s tomorrow will be the solutions.

And second, I was filled up to my eyeballs with information on this subject. The only easy part of this research was that all the sources seem to agree that deforestation is a problem.

Deforestation is defined as clearing Earth’s forests on a massive scale, often resulting in damage to the quality of the land.

Far too little attention has been paid to the role tropical deforestation has in warming the planet. It accounts for 17% of global emissions – more than all the world’s cars, trucks, planes, trains and ships combined.

http://www.thinkglobalgreen.org/deforestation.html

Forests still cover about 30 percent of the world’s land area, but the world’s rain forests could completely vanish in a hundred years at the current rate of deforestation.

Who do we have to thank for this disaster? Ourselves of course.

The biggest driver of deforestation is agriculture. Farmers cut forests to provide more room for planting crops or grazing livestock. Forests are also cut as a result of growing urban sprawl.

Logging operations, which provide the world’s wood and paper products, also cut countless trees each year. Loggers, some of them acting illegally, also build roads to access more and more remote forests—which lead to further deforestation. Some is caused by a combination of human and natural factors like wildfires and subsequent overgrazing, which may prevent the growth of young trees.

Droughts and forest fires are expected to increase due to climate change. Forest fires can be a normal part of forests – they clear dense brush and are part of some species’ lifecycle. However, forests over stressed by human activity and drought can also devastate them. There are already indications that the Amazon is drying out, which could lead to a dangerous feedback of fires and desertification.

Invasive insect species may also damage forest health. Insects play a role in boreal ecology – they decompose litter, supply food for birds and small animals, and eliminate diseased trees. But insect attacks are likely to increase in frequency and intensity as established forests succumb to the physiological stress associated with warmer, drier conditions. As the Arctic warms, some invasive insect species, which the colder climate normally helps hold in check, are already increasing in population.

Hydroelectric dams are quite controversial because while they help to power communities, they also contribute to deforestation. To build a hydroelectric dam, acres of land must be flooded, which causes decomposition and release of greenhouse gases. Local people can also be displaced by dam projects, causing further deforestation when these people resettle elsewhere.

Mining also results in deforestation. Digging a coal, diamond or gold mine requires the removal of all forest cover, not just for the mines but also for trucks and equipment. Recently, Venezuela denied a corporation called Crystallex permission to dig a mine because of environmental concerns. Way to Venezuela!

Palm oil is potential candidate to be used as a biofuel and is used in many packaged foods and beauty products. But palm oil is another cause of deforestation. Its rising prices make it more valuable, and, in response, Indonesian and Malaysian farmers destroy acres of trees to harvest it. For this reason, several countries are currently debating a ban on palm oil as a biofuel.

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/climate-change/science/deforestation/

http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/deforestation1.htm

According to the World Resources Institute, more than 80 percent of the Earth’s natural forests already have been destroyed. Up to 90 percent of West Africa’s coastal rain forests have disappeared since 1900. Brazil and Indonesia, which contain the world’s two largest surviving regions of rain forest, are being stripped at an alarming rate by logging, fires, and land-clearing for agriculture and cattle-grazing. Brazil has established a goal of reducing emissions from the Amazon by 80% by 2020 and is already making impressive progress in that direction, including robust monitoring and verification systems. Indonesia is moving in a similar direction. These efforts could be focused, honed and replicated globally. http://www.thinkglobalgreen.org/deforestation.html

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