Deforestation

DEFINITION:
Deforestation involves the permanent destruction of indigenous forests and woodlands.Much of the deforestation that is going on today is in vast areas of Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia.

INTRODUCTION:
-Environmental issues effect every life on this planet from the smallest parasite to the human race.A single disruption in the Earth's delicate balance can mean certain destruction of the very place that cradles the lives of many species.
-What is not so simple is finding alternatives to the now dangerous and confronting acts of planet degradation that have been afflicted on the planet over recent years.One such issue that requires consideration is deforestation.

WHY TREES MATTER:
To understand why deforestation is such a pressing and urgent issue,forests must be given the credit for what they bring to global ecosystems and the quality of life that all species maintain.
-Forest eg.Tropical forests give a place to call home for 50%-90% of all organism, 90% of our relatives, the primates, and 50 million creatures.All different flora and fauna exist in forests.
-Trees give spices, food, medicines, the rainforests amplify and save life.
-The quality of life also depend upon forests.
-Trees improve the quality of the air that species breath by trapping carbon and other particles produced by pollution.
-Trees determine rainfall and replenish the atmosphere.
-Water gets put back in the atmosphere, clouds form and provide another way to block out the sun's heat.
-Trees are cool and regulates the earth's climate in conjuction with other such valuable services.
-It prevents erosion, landslides, and making the most infertile soil rich with life.
-As aggregates of plant matter, forests do a great deal of oxygen production and help prevent excessive global warming.
-Forests help to replenish nutrients in land and thus prevent desertification.
-It is source of timber and wood which has further more uses.[building material, heating fuel, paper].

PREHISTORY:
-The first evidence of deforestation appears in the Mesolithic period.[To game animals they required more open space]
-For agriculture they used fire as a main tool for deforestation.Mesolithic foragers used fire to create openings for red deer and wild boar.In Britain oak and ash are replaced by hazels, brambles etc.Removal of forest led to decrease in transpiration.
-The Neolithic period saw deforestation for farming land.Flints and stone axes were used.eg.Minoan Crete.

PRE-INDUSTRIAL HISTORY:
-Humans were always hunters in areas like Amazon, The tropics, Central America, and the Caribbean.After a while they started using wood for fuel and other forest products and methods were used for clearing the forest.There was lot of soil erosion and alluviation due to heavy deforestation.Settlers moved towards upper river beds and the cleared forest areas were also started filling up with new colonies. Requirement increased, which lead to builting new cities and wood based new indusries came up.[eg.shipbuilding, construction, pottery].Fuel needs, mining, and metallury need increased lead to more mining.

INDUSTRIAL HISTORY:
-By 19th century, introduction of steamboats and other transportation instruments gave rise to deforestation.It lead to flooding and other severe consequences.eg Mississipi river.There was mark increase of clearing of forest for agriculture land was seen.This is parralel to 20th century.

CAUSES:
1.Logging:is the main threat to old growth forests.The small farmer plays a big role, but it is modern industry that too cuts down the trees.Illegal logging is also a means that leads to destruction of plant life.since there is a need for wood to be used in home construction or furniture making,mainly timber.Growth of timber industry gave lots of employment opportunities.Paper industry too dependent largely on wood and wood can be used as fuel also.Loggers also built roads to access more and more remote forests, which leads to further deforestation.
2.Urbanisation:Occurs when vast areas of forests become cities to bring up larger buildings.It is growing urban sprawl.
3.Agriculture:Due to increase in population demand for food supply is also amplified.Thus need for the establishment of agricultural areas came up.Many farmers will cut down trees from few acres and burn them in the process called slash and burn agriculture.
4.Oil exploration:It disturbs our resources untouched.Human consumption of oil has risen since then have caused the need for the massive supply of oil.The search ie carried out extensively around earth's territories.
5.Human made disasters;Such as fire are very common source of forest depletion.Very easily, forest can become stripped at any time through enormous flames that can be done or started accidentally on purpose.
-Even subsequent over grazing prevents the growth of young trees.Cattle grazing is important for fast food industries as they are the source of ham and beef meat.
-Some farmers harvest clean all through the fire and replant again after a few days.But forest fires emit carbon dipoxide is very toxic to environment.

The contemporary causes are
1.Corruption of government institutions.
2.The inequitable distribution of wealth and power.
3.Population growth, and over population.

-The most important cause is Globalization and that deforestation can result from a combination of poulation pressure and stagnating economic, social, and technological conditions.Disregard or ignorance of intrinsic value, lax forest management and deficient environmental laws are some of the factors that allow deforestation on large scale.

-Other causes are acid rain and building of dams have their share of harmful effects.The race to produce cash crops such as fruit, spices, sugar, tobacco, soap, rubber and cloth has given the cause to many to try to farm them by using soil and other products that can be retrieved by destroying the forests.

-The removal of trees without sufficient reforestation has resulted in damage to habitat, biodiversity loss and aridity.It has adverse impacts on biosequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide.Deforested regions typically incur significant adverse soil erosion and frequently degrade into wasteland.In many countries, it is an ongoing issue that is causing extinction, changes to climatic conditions, desertification, and displacement of indegenous people.

THE EFFECTS AND IMPACTS:
ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS
1.Atmospheric:
Deforestation is ongoing and is shaping climate and geography.
-Deforestation is a contributor to global warming and is responsible for approximately 20% of world green house effect.eg.Tropical deforestation is responsible for 10% of total emissions of anthropogenic carbon dioxide in  green house gas emissions excluding peatland emissions.Removal of carbon dioxide from atmosphere and releasing oxygen in atmosphere by the process of photosynthesis is the function of trees.It can be done by actively growing trees for a longer timeframe.Both the decay and burning of wood releases much of the stored carbon back to the atmosphere.In order for forest to take up carbon, trees must be replanted, wood harvested.
-Carbon which is held in the soil also gets released due to deforestation.Mature forests are stores of carbon in form of carbondioxide sinks and carbon cycle.Carbon dioxide also moderates heat loss to outer space.Carbon dioxide allows solar heat into the system, but discourage its escape.Other green house gases are methane, nitrous oxide, ozone.All this gases acts like glass in green house.They will increase the temperature of on earth's surface and can lead to changes in weather patterns, sea levels, and other cycles in nature giving a way to global warming.[Depletion of ozone layer,which leads to direct exposure of sun's U.V.light].
-Programmes are held to reduce GHG emissions are via the contributions of REDD.
-Removal of carbon dioxide and other pollutants from air,contributes to biosphere stability.

2.Hydrological:
The water cycle is also affected by deforestation.Tropical rainforests produce about 30% of our planet's fresh water.Deforestation reduces soil cohesion, so that erosion, flooding and landslides ensure.Trees act as filters for rainwater,by sucking the excess rainfall and prevents flooding.Clearing the forest dramatically increases the surface run-off from rainfall.Where there is vegetation flooding is not a problem but areas where there is less vegetation there is problem.Some times there is flash flooding.
There is severe decrease in transpire evaporation and evapottranspiration, which in turn doesnot recycle water to downwind forests, but is lost in runoff and returns directly to oceans.This is how the water cycle is affected.eg.Northwest china in 1950-1980.

3.Soil:
Once forest is cut down, essential nutrients are washed out of the soil all-together.This leads to soil erosion.When there are no trees to keep the soil in place, the soil dries and cracks under sun's heat. the temperature of soil increases, nitrogen is lost, further reducing the fertility of the soil making it more acidic.So no new trees can be planted and the soil will remain useless.Social impact of the soil erosion is large as the the settlers keep moving to area where cultivation is possible.

-In some cases not releasing water to the atmosphere and making the climate dry due to barren land and the heat of sun.It reduces water content of the soil and ground water as well as atmospheric moisture.
-The soil erosion will lead to permanent impoverishment of huge land areas.eg.In China, yellow river is called China's sorrow as the yellow color is due to the sediments provided due to erosion of Loess Plateau which was completely deforested.

-Tree roots bind the soil together and also bind the underlying bed rock.Removal of tree on steep slope increases the risk of landslides.

ECOLOGICAL PROBLEMS:
-Deforestation results in declines in biodiversity.There would be decline in habitat for wildlife, medical conservation is reduced and new sources of drugs like taxol is lost.It can destroy genetic variations such as crop resistance and even with in different species of animals and insects.
One eg.is the Halocene mass extinction in rain forest.Predictions have been made that more than 40% of the animal and plant  species in Southeast Asia could be wiped out in the 21st century.
-Deforestation has had a profound effect on cultural diversity throughout the forest regions, and ultimately the world.The world forest are home to over 10 million members of the last surviving intimately resource-based cultures.Aboriginal people and tribal people world wide have lost their land to government and industrialist, whose intentions are natural capital into hard currency.Extinction of tribal culture and people is also lost.

ECONOMICAL PROBLEMS:
-The forest products industry is a large part of the economy both in developed and developing countries.Short term gains made by deforestation causes long term loss of income and biological productivity.West Africa, Madagascar, Southeast Asia have experienced lower revenue because of declining timber harvests.Illegal logging also causes billions of dollars of losses to national economies annually.The new procedures to get wood and charcoal is causing more harm to the economy.

CONTROLLING DEFORESTATION:
1.Organisation:
-Major international organisations, including the UN and world bank,have begun to develope programs aimed at curbing deforestation.REDD describes these sorts of programs, which use direct monetary or other incentives to encourage developing countries to limit and/or roll back deforestation.Methods are introduced to monitor the illegalities inforest.Avoidance of deforestation is the major campaign by these organisations.
farming:
-New methods are introduced to farm intensively, such as high yield hybrid crops, green house, autonomous building gardens, and hydroponics.Cyclic agriculture increases the fertility of soil nutrients and cattles are grazed on it.

2.Forest management:
-Efforts to stop or slow deforestation have been attempted since the longest time.eg. Silviculture has been developed by Germany.In areas where slash and burn is practised,switching to slash and char would prevent the rapid deforestation and subsequent degradation of soils.The biochar thus created, given back to soil, is not only a durable carbon sequestration method, but it also is an extremely beneficial amendment to the soil.Mixed with biomass it brings the creation of terra preta, one of the richest soils on the planet and the only one known to regenerate itself.

3.Certified forest management practise:
-Certificates provided by PEFC and FSC[global certificate] ensures deforestation practice by creating market demand for timber from sustainably managed forest.Certification focuses on the demand side of environmental conservation.The approach is to promote sustainable forest management.

4.Reforestation:
-In many countries specially in East Asian countries, reforestation and afforestation are increasing the area of forested lands.eg. China observes 12th March as planting holiday and it introduced the Green Wall of China project, which aims to halt the expansion of Gobi desert through the planting trees.An ambitious project by China is the Aerially Delivered Re-Forestation and Erosion Control System and The proposed Sahara project coupled with the Seawater Greenhouse.
-In Western countries suitable measures are taken for their forest management and timber harvesting practices.
The Arbor Day Foundation's Rain forest Rescue program is a charity that helps to prevent deforestation.Various organisations work in groups to restore and reforestation.

5.Forest PLantations:
-To meet the demand of wood and other forest products forestry department has suggested that high yielding forest plantations are suitable.Forester Chad Oliver has suggested a forest mosaic withhigh yield forest lands interpersed with conservation land.
-Reforestation could take advantage of changing precipitation patterns due to climate change.The expanding desert sited areas like Niger, SierraLeone and Liberia are important due to decreasing biodiversity.

MILITARY CONTEXT eg.Deliberate deforestation which took place in USA.Zone of Occupation after World War2. The purpose of this was the ultimate destruction of the war potential of German Forests.It can be replaced only by long forestry developement over a century.

-War can also be the cause of deforestation.eg.Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.It reduced the forest to landscape,a vast muddy field,lead,decay and maggots by bombardment and bulldozers.
-Many people might not consider the possible consequences of deforestation serious.They are ignorant as the wastage of wood products are large.

The only way to ensure that we will not encounter any of the consequences of deforestation is to stop destroying the forests all together.As a common men the only thing we can do is to use forest products in moderation.Instead of putting the problem on the back burner until we can no longer ignore it, how about we remedy it now or we will not be able to fix the damage if the forest are gone.

-Forest were put on Earth for a reason; they help to maintain a delicate balance between all of nature's elements.Man's survival also depends on the capabilities that bring the ecosystem.

-The forest really gives us a lot from the air we breath, the water we consume and the food we eat.If the world rampant deforestation and murder not be put to a stop, it will lead to more complex problems.

-One way or another, the green area will backfire the unstoppable in us and human survival may be next in line to extinction.

Brief bio of Author:The author is Jigna Chinoy, a medical lab tech.,served a well known Hematology lab and Blood bank  for over 14 yrs. Served as a hon. Prof. of general microbiology, practical microbiology and genetics, for 10 yrs at a post graduate level. Volunteered marrow donor registry of India, A yoga trainer and a reader, a student of Adv.Diploma in Counseling and Guidance.
Article 5/95.
Disclaimer
Savio DSilva Websites