Biosphere

Deforestation

Overview

Deforestation comes in many forms, including fires, clear-cutting for agriculture, ranching and development, unsustainable logging for timber, and degradation due to climate change. This impacts peoples daily activities, while threatening a wide range of plant and animal species. Forests play a significant role in mitigating climate change because they act as a carbon sink—they soak up all the CO2 that is in the atmosphere. Deforestation undermines this important carbon sink function.



  • According to World Wide Life, It is estimated that 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions are the result of deforestation.
  • Forests cover 31% of the land area on our planet. They produce oxygen and are homes for many people and animals. Many threatened and endangered animals live in forests, and 1.6 billion people rely on benefits forests offer, including food, fresh water, clothing, traditional medicine and shelter (WWF).



Deforestation

Some 46-58 million square miles of forest are lost each year—equivalent to 36 football fields every minute.

TiffanyYu

Deforestation should be banned by TiffanyYu

Impacts

INCREASED GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS

Forests work towards reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, but they become carbon sources when they are cut, burned or otherwise removed. Greenhouse gas emissions result in rising temperatures, changes in patterns of weather and water and an increased frequency of extreme weather events (WWF).


  • For example, in Sumatra, rain forests on deep peat-lands are being cleared, drained and converted to pulp plantations, contributing to Indonesia’s high greenhouse gas emissions.



INCREASED SOIL EROSION

Without trees to anchor fertile soil, erosion can occur and sweep the land into rivers. The agricultural plants that often replace the trees cannot hold onto the soil. Many of these plants—such as coffee, cotton, palm oil, soybean and wheat—can actually make soil erosion worse.


DISRUPTED LIVELIHOODS

Many people around the world depend on forests for various reasons.

  • hunting,
  • gathering and medicine,
  • forest products such as rubber and rattan,
  • and small-scale agriculture.
But deforestation does have it's downs, while it disrupts the lives of some people, sometimes with devastating consequences.

What are we doing?

Eliminating all deforestation is not possible. Parts of the landscape will need to be reshaped and altered as populations grow and change—but this can be balanced through

  • sustainable forest management,
  • reforestation efforts
  • and maintaining the integrity of protected areas.


Funny Harrison Ford Deforestation Video (interactive)

Deforestation may be accountable for around one fifth of carbon emissions worldwide (BBC News).