Society and Environment Awareness
What is Deforestation?
Effects of Deforestation
- Loss of Habitat- Seventy percent of the Earth's land animals and plants live in forests, and many cannot survive the deforestation that destroys their homes. Without their homes they would either become extinct or have to be moved to another location; resulting in loss of other species from competition of resources, food, and water.
- Soil Erosion- Deforestation accelerates rates of soil erosion, by increasing runoff and reducing the protection of the soil from the tree litter.
- Increase of Desertification- Forest soils are moist and nutrient-rich, but without protection from sun-blocking tree cover they quickly dry out. Without trees to provide a canopy, many former forest lands can quickly become barren deserts.
- Disruption of Water Cycles- Forests act as an enormous reservoir of water, which attract humidity and create rain clouds by means of transpiration. With deforestation, rain continues to fall just as much after the trees are cut, but it floods the ground and streams down to a nearby river. While streaming down, it brings an important amount of mud, which can be extremely destructive, filling up the river. The river loses depth and expands in width when ground elements are deposited in the bottom, which floods part of the surrounding.
- Water Toxicity- Along the same note, the water becomes unsafe for drinking because of the accumulation of mud, reducing the amount of drinking water available for humans and animals.
- Ocean Acidification- In the case of Mangroves, these trees play a large part in the role of ocean acidification; they improve the water quality by filtering agricultural runoff and polluted water. By doing this, they are saving numerous marine ecosystems as well as providing human communities with billions of dollars worth of free services.
What Happens Now?
- The quickest solution to deforestation would be to simply stop cutting down trees. Though deforestation rates have slowed a bit in recent years, financial realities make this unlikely to occur.
- A more workable solution is to carefully manage forest resources by eliminating clear-cutting to make sure that forest environments remain intact. The cutting that does occur should be balanced by the planting of enough young trees to replace the older ones felled in any given forest. The number of new tree plantations is growing each year, but their total still equals a tiny fraction of the Earth's forested land.
What to Think About
- Why is deforestation occurring?
- How is deforestation affecting the environment and how can we stop it?
"Deforestation." National Geographic. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Apr. 2014.
"Mangroves." Smithsonian Ocean Portal. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2014.
"What Are the Consequences of Deforestation on the Natural Water Patterns?" : Environment for Beginners. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2014.
WorldWildlife.org. World Wildlife Fund, n.d. Web. 02 Apr. 2014.