Echo systems around the world help support the lives of millions of species. Echo systems that are primarily forests provide a home for a vast majority of living species. Therefore, the trees in these forests are considered the most important species. While it is true, most species are not able to sustain themselves without each other.
There are many benefits that we obtain from our forests. Some of these include cleaner drinking water, a home for plants and animals, economic growth, clean air, recreational opportunities, and a reassuring future. Another benefit we get from trees is called oxygen. If there were no trees to give us oxygen to breathe, we could not live. So if you need a good reason why a forest should exist, staying alive is a very good reason.
CAUSES OF THE PROBLEM
Forests have many resources that people can use to improve their standard of living. An example is wood for house construction. Certain wood materials last a long time, keep the house warm, and make housing easier. Sadly, the world is overcrowded and the demand for a higher standard of living is constantly increasing. Therefore, the demand for more resources is growing to levels that cannot be sustained. Since forests provide a large part of the world’s resources, many forests are cut down or burned.
The cause of forest clearing is directly associated with the high demand for wood to make paper products and wood for other manufactures. We practically use wood for everything. It is used in home construction, marine products, furniture and the list seems endless. Just look around you right now and you will likely find a product within your reach that is made of wood. Wood is not only a good building material, it also has great aesthetic qualities. Most people appreciate a nice wooden dining table set or the classic wooden rails on a staircase. Unfortunately, we don’t always take into account how many trees we need to cut down in order to have these luxuries in our lives.
Another major direct cause of forest depletion is simply the burning of forests for farmland. This is more common in countries that are underdeveloped and have tropical forests. Many poor farmers in these countries burn or cut down small portions of tropical forests to make room for agriculture and livestock. But the large-scale problem is created when large corporate farms burn thousands of square acres a year. They need so much space to be able to offer agriculture on a much larger scale to compete in the global food market. The reason forests are burned for farmland is due to the fertility of the rich minerals in the soil.
Unfortunately, even large-scale farmers in underdeveloped countries are not informed about how they can maximize their results by reusing the soil. Therefore, the land is used and left as a desert while farmers burn more forests to make another farm. The Amazon rainforest, which is the largest in the world, has been the victim of such deforestation. This forest is found in South America, where countries are going through difficult economic times. The Brazilian market is one third of all Latin countries included. However, “Brazil’s foreign debt, except in the most unlikely positive economic circumstances, is simply unsustainable in the years to come” (CRF.org 2002). The economic pressure on a country is another great cause that will force a country to deforestation such as Brazil. The Basic Science and Remote Sensing Initiative (BSRSI) shows data that between 1978 and 1988 230,000 square miles, almost the size of Texas was affected by deforestation (bsrsi.msu.edu). That’s 16.5% of all the Amazon rainforest.
The following example shows the cause of deforestation for agriculture. According to the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), “Between 1990 and 2001, the percentage of imports of processed meat from Europe that came from Brazil increased from 40 to 74 percent” and for 2003 “For the first time, the growth of the Brazilian cattle production, 80 percent of which was in the Amazon, was driven primarily by exports. ” As more roads are built to provide access to forests in underdeveloped countries, deforestation becomes more apparent.
SCOPE OF THE PROBLEM
As mentioned above, we get a large part of our oxygen from vegetation, such as trees. Since most trees live in forests, it is important to realize the negative impact that deforestation can have on air quality. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a gas that has an impact on the greenhouse effect. There is a cycle between CO2 producers, like cars, and CO2 consumers, like plants. Together they create the “global carbon cycle”. Plants and soil in tropical forests contain between 460 and 575 billion metric tons of carbon worldwide (McKane et al. 1995). From 1850 to 1990, deforestation around the world released 122 billion metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere, with a current rate of between 1.6 billion metric tons per year (Skole et al. 1998). By comparison, all fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) burned during a year release about 6 billion tons per year. Therefore, deforestation, even compared to all other pollutions, plays an important role in global warming and clean air.
Another degree of the deforestation problem is the decline in biodiversity. Biodiversity is important for ecosystem sustainability, agriculture, medicine, recreation, aesthetic and commercial value. There are about 5 to 80 million species living on this earth (Lawton and May 1995). Rainforests cover about 7% of the world, but are home to more than half of the species that live in the world. After a forest is cut down, many species cannot live without it and may become extinct. Since we depend on these species for many resources, their extension will deprive us of their benefits. Perhaps we could destroy the next cure for AIDS through deforestation and not know it.
The negative impacts of deforestation are being felt internationally. Many countries are taking steps to reduce the problem and achieve a more sustainable land. Unfortunately, deforestation still offers economic gains and high competition, and for some it is the only way to survive. Many people are not informed about the long-term results that their actions can cause. For these reasons, deforestation continues to be a reality around the world in many countries.
With greater international participation, countries will take effective measures to bring deforestation to sustainable levels. But there is still a lot of work to do. In the case of some forests, it is not too late to recover them faster. Other forests that have been logged can take centuries to grow to their original state. In areas where pesticides were used, the echo system may have been damaged and take a long time to grow back. Many forests were replaced by large banana plantations. These plantations use pesticides that kill many species that are vital for an eco system to be maintained. Erosion caused by deforestation may bring more water pollution in the future and may affect agriculture in the area. Other reasons for deforestation are simply to give rise to paved roads, residential and commercial development that are caused by urban sprawl. These types of developments permanently destroy forests. Deforestation is a serious threat to the future of life on our planet. It has important effects on our global climate. It leads to the loss of millions of species that are important to keeping the earth alive.
As we discussed the causes of deforestation, we realized how these causes are very different. Because the causes are often controlled by a country’s economy, overpopulation, and many other social reasons, it is impossible to find a solution to deforestation. Although there are many solutions, it will take time and the cooperation of many different groups of people and organizations for the solutions to work.
A popular solution that has been in place for a few decades is forest conservation. We can work internationally, regionally, and locally with organizations to develop policy and influence industries to help ensure a sustainable future for forests. Conservation helps protect, manage and restore the world’s most important forests by identifying threats and developing solutions to them.
Reduce the amount of products that are produced as a result of deforestation. For example, using materials other than wood to build houses, furniture, and other common products made of wood. Encourage recyclable materials so people don’t revert to wood. Switching from wood to other materials will decrease the demand / supply for wood.
Implement more efficient agricultural methods to encourage the reuse of land.
Educate people around the world about the negative impacts of deforestation and what can be done to prevent it. Help fund more educational programs. Help countries make the right economic decisions.
Sign international treaties and make laws / regulations to control annual deforestation.
Import meat and dairy products from markets that do not cause deforestation.
The solution that I think will be very effective is the second. When it comes to cutting down trees, this is a very viable solution. We have too many products made of wood today. As economies grow around the world, so will the middle class. This middle class will demand more and more products made of wood. The American middle class is obsessed with wood products and we don’t even realize it. A large part of our houses are built with wood, just like our furniture. Most cabinets alone require a lot of wood. If we like wood products, so will the rest of the world.
The solution is to take most of the wood products and find alternative materials. Of course, this is not as easy as it sounds, but it is very doable. Once this is done, the demand for wood will greatly decrease, thus reducing deforestation. With such high advances in technology we can travel in space and replace hearts. Therefore, it is possible to manufacture materials that are safe for the environment and replace wood. Perhaps even make materials that share most of the properties that wood has. We can even invent materials that mimic wood like the “burled wood” in our cars today. This “burred wood” in most cars isn’t even wood anymore, it’s a kind of plastic and a pattern to mimic the look of wood. Speaking of the auto industry, I can’t believe how advanced our cars have become. These are cars that we drive every day. However, we live in new houses that were built with an old method of wood and nails. I think that is ridiculous. Perhaps the solution to replacing wood with alternative materials will also lead to more efficient assembly methods and a safer environment. And most importantly, the first solution is to change our attitude to help prevent deforestation.
the Forest resource depletion it’s a big problem with challenging solutions, let’s team up around the world to help solve these problems.