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Deforestation is the permanent destruction of indigenous forests and woodlands. The term does not include the removal of industrial forests such as plantations. It has resulted in the reduction of indigenous forests to 4/5 of their pre-agricultural area.
Deforestation is a problem that is caused largely by greed and want for property, money and possibly status.
In many parts of the world the forest is taken for granted as a replenishable resource, which it is. The problem is that the trees cannot be regrown and replanted at the rate at which they are being cut down.
Deforestation is a problem with far reaching consequences ranging from a barren landscape to a higher Carbon Dioxide levels in the air. The underlying point is that we have to pull together to stop the destruction of the world's woodlands and forests.
Deforestation can be attributed to various causes. The obvious one is logging, however the reasons extends a lot further than that. The forests are cultivated, cleared and burned every year for international ranchers and local farmers. Every year certain factors influence the amount of forest area:
In a lot of third world countries the population is involved in various primary activities, one of these being logging. The native peoples in an area are put under a lot of pressure to make a living to support their families, and get jobs as loggers, often illegally so.
Another cause is fires. In Kenya and the Amazon and various other countries there are large plantations of exotic plants in the places where there used to be indigenous forests. The exotic trees often are not suited to the environment and shed a lot of leaves. This makes the area a huge fire hazard. If a fire starts the dry leaves act like fire lighters and cause huge amounts of damage to the local area.
Human settlement is a big problem in many areas. People who have left the city to live in the rural areas claim pieces of land as their own and slash and burn the surroundings, using wood for fuel and also selling it on roadsides etc.
The construction of roads and highways is a bit problem in wooded areas. In the Amazon they propose to build a 960km highway called the BR-163 from Curiaba in the middle of South America to Santarem in the top right corner of Brazil. The BR-163 will allow giant grain producers in the Matto Grosso region to export their crops to Europe via Santarem far more quickly and cheaply. It is estimated that 49 000km2 of forest will be destroyed during constructon
The growth of the world population is also a problem because more ground has to be cleared in order to feed the ever-growing populations. As the population grows there is a need for food. People take the initiative and buy large pieces of land that they cultivate with single crops. They have to cut down trees and bush etc. When they harvest their crop they leave the ground open to erosion.
Deforestation is by no means a restricted problem. It can play havoc with the local community and even the country it occurs in. As with erosion, deforestation is not only caused by ignorant people. Therefore it is unfair to blame the nomads, shifting cultivators and farmers for destroying the countryside.
Deforestation is a contributing factor to the green house effect. The trees are large Carbon dioxide stores, and when the trees are burnt they release this gas. This leads too an increase in the Carbon dioxide levels in the air. Carbon dioxide is the major contributor in the green house effect.
Trees draw water up through their roots and release it into the atmosphere (transpiration). In the Amazon, half of the water is contained in the trees. If the trees are removed, the region cannot hold as much water and will become drier.
In areas where deforestation occurs the community as a whole suffers. If there are no trees, the land becomes far more unstable than before. The roots from the trees no longer exist and therefore it leaves the forest floor open to erosion and mudslides etc.
The land also becomes sandy and dry as the sun can now penetrate deep into the forest, where before, the tree-cover blocked out the damaging rays. When this occurs plants living near the cut down tree die and wither in the sun. It is believed that with every tree felled another 40 are destroyed in the process.
The local animals are effected just as much as the people. Thier natural habitats are destroyed and species, possibly unknown to man become extinct, because they have nowhere to live. When the bull dozers knock the trees down,
Native people living in forest areas are pushed out of their homes and have to encroach on more of the forest. They cannot go anywhere else because they only know how to survive on the plants in the forest. In this way more forest is destroyed and the cycle will probably continue until all forests are destroyed.
To prevent deforestation is a personal undertaking, where you do your best to conserve the wood you use. You can also get involved at your school and try to get some money together and use it to buy trees to plant. You might like to write to your municipality to ask them to hold back on the cutting down of trees. You must tell everyone that you know about the effects of deforestation and explain how they can help. If you need guidance as to how to go about preserving nature, ask an adult or teacher. Always try to limit the wood etc, that you use. Do not by excessive amounts of wooden items as this only encourages the people who own timbermills and logging companies.