Trees are in big trouble from deforestation, which is the destruction of forests to make room for people. In some parts of North America, the forests have been reduced to 2% of their original land span. Since the mid-1900's, the rainforests have been reduced to half of their original area. We lose approximately six times more rainforest each year than is replanted. Where there used to be huge forests, in many cases the forest that remains is much smaller and surrounded by cities.
Pollution is another cause of big trouble for trees. Factories are a source of pollution. When factories let out smoke it forms clouds. When it rains from those clouds, it can become acid rain or polluted water drops. When the trees absorb the polluted water, it makes them sick or can even kill the trees.
Loss of forests has created some ecological problems, too. An example is increased floods in populated areas due to the loss of trees that normally would trap precipitation. See, the trees keep the soil in place along the sides of ponds, rivers, etc. If the soil is loose and falls into the body of water, the water rises, and, if there’s enough falling soil, it will cause a flood. So by having more trees there is less loose soil, and thus, no more flood problems. Pretty simple, right?
Also, when forest areas disappear, there is less production of oxygen from photosynthesis. Fresh oxygen is important to the survival of people and animals which breathe oxygen. When less carbon dioxide is used up during photosynthesis, the rate of carbon dioxide absorbed into the air increases. From this, more heat from the sun is stuck near the earth’s surface instead of being put back into space.
There was almost no control over deforestation around the world until some laws were passed. There are some U.S.A. laws to protect trees. In 1911, the U.S.A. Congress passed the Weeks Law, which let the government buy forests that are part of vital watersheds (the specific land area that drains water into a river system or other body of water) for rivers and streams. Another law was passed in 1964. It was the Wilderness Act. This act preserved wilderness areas in national forests and federal areas. It’s clear that some people will try to save the forests.
A good thing about tree resources is that they are renewable. You can plant seeds to grow more trees. This is what a lot of people are doing around the world.
Did you know there are some countries that have very few trees left in the entire country? For example, in Rwanda it is illegal to harvest trees because there are very few left. Most of the land has been cultivated, and there are only a few eucalyptus and cypress trees that remain. Sometimes people actually steal the trees because they need the wood for fuel.
China is also trying to save their trees. The reason they're losing so many trees is because of wooden chopsticks. Around 45 billion pairs of chopsticks are made each year in China, and they use millions of trees and bamboo plants to make them. The government has added a 5% tax to the purchase of disposable chopsticks to get people to start buying reusable ones.
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"China Introduces Chopstick Tax." BBC News. 22 March 2006. Accessed on 17 March 2007 <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/4831734.stm>.
Douglas, David. "An Antidote To Deforestation: Plant A Tree." Christian Science Monitor 9 August 1996: page 18. Searches. 27 February 2007 <http://web.ebscohost.com>.
"Forestry." World Wildlife Federation. 17 February 2007 <http://www.worldwildlife.org/forests/>.
May cock, Paul F. "Forest." World Book Online Reference Center. 27 February 2007.
Parker, George R. "Forestry" World Book Online Reference Center. 2007. 27 February 2007. <http://www.worldbookonline.com>
"Protecting Forests." World Wildlife Federation. 17 February 2007 <http://www.worldwildlife.org/involved/consumer/pf.cfm>.
“Ten Reasons We Plant Trees.” American Forests. 4 February 2007 <http://www.americanforests.org>.
“Tree.” Winkled. 27 February, 2007 <http://en.wikipedia.org/Vikki/Tree>.
United Nations Educational Science and Cultural Organization www.unesco.org 2 March 2007 <www.unesco.org/>.
"A Way to Save Trees and Improve Villagers Lives." JS Online. 16 March 2007 <http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=355613>.
Wendell, Berry. “Woods.” Spirit of Trees. 26 February 2007 <http://www.spiritoftrees.org>.
Morgan, Sally. Saving the Rain Forests. Danbury CT: Godlier Publishing, 1999.
Permission to use all of the photographs on this page is granted under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License from Winkled., the Free Encyclopedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/vikki/Ma in_Page> (March, 2007).
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