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Depletion of Forest Resources
Echo systems around the world support life for millions of species. Ecosystems that are forests in particular provide a home for a large number of living species. Hence the trees in these forests are considered to be the most important species. Although it is true, that many species are not able to maintain without each other.
There are many benefits we get from our forest. Some of these include clean drinking water, housing for plants and animals, economic development, clean air, recreational opportunities, and a secure future. Another benefit we get from trees is called oxygen. If there is no tree to give us oxygen to breathe, we cannot live. So if you need a good reason why a forest should exist, living is the best reason.
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
Forests have many resources that people can use to enhance their livelihood. An example is the wood used to build houses. Wood materials last a long time, they keep the house warm and make it easier to build houses. Unfortunately the world is overcrowded and the demand for higher quality is always increasing. Hence the demand for more resources is growing to unsustainable levels. Since forests provide many of the world’s resources, many forests are cut down or burned.
The reason for cutting forests is directly related to the high demand for wood to make paper products and wood for other manufacturing. We practically use wood for everything. It is used in home building, marine products, furniture and the list seems to be endless. Just look around you now and chances are you will find a product within your reach that is wood. Not only is wood a good building material, but it also has great aesthetic qualities. Most people appreciate a nice wooden dining table or classic wooden rails on a staircase. Unfortunately we don’t always take into account how many trees need to be cut down in order to have these luxuries in our lives.
Another important reason for deforestation is the burning of forests for farmland. This is more so with countries that are less developed and have tropical rainforests. Many poor farmers in these countries burn or cut down some of the tropical forests to make room for farming and cattle. But a large-scale problem is created when large industrial farms burn thousands of square acres a year. They need this much room in order to provide agriculture on a large scale to compete in the world market for food. The reason we burn forests for farmland is because of the fertility of soil minerals.
Unfortunately even large farmers in underdeveloped countries are not trained on how to increase their results when they reuse soil. So the land has been used up and left as a desert while the farmers burn some forest to make another farm. The largest Amazon forest in the world has fallen to this type of deforestation. This forest is in South America where countries are having hard financial times. Brazil’s market is a third of that of all Latin countries. However “Brazil’s foreign debt, except in most cases of positive economic conditions, is simply unsustainable in the coming years” (CRF.org 2002). The economic impact on the country is a big reason. another that would force a country to deforestation as is the case in Brazil. The Basic Science and Remote Sensing Initiative (BSRSI) data shows that between 1978 and 1988 230,000 square miles, almost the size of Texas were affected by deforestation ( bsrsi.msu.edu).That is 16.5% of all the rainforest in the Amazon.
The following example shows why deforestation is for agriculture. According to the Center for International Forestry (CIFOR), “Between 1990 and 2001, European beef imports from Brazil increased from 40 to 74 percent of hundred” and by 2003 “For the first time ever, growth in Brazilian livestock production-80 percent of which is in the Amazon-is largely exported. ” As we build more roads to provide access to forests in less developed countries more deforestation appears.
THE POWER OF PROBLEM
As mentioned earlier, we get a large portion of our oxygen from plants such as trees. Since most trees live in forests it is important to know the negative impact deforestation can have on our air quality. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a gas that affects the greenhouse effect. There is a balance between CO2 producers such as cars and CO2 consumers such as plants. Together they create the “Global Carbon Cycle”. Plants and soil of tropical forests hold 460-575 billion metric tons of global carbon (McKane et al. 1995). From 1850 to 1990, deforestation worldwide released 122 billion metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere, with the current rate being about 1.6 billion metric tons per year (Skole et al. 1998). In comparison, all fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas) burn during an annual release of about 6 billion tons per year. So deforestation even if compared to all other pollution plays a major role in global warming and clean air.
Another dimension of the problem with deforestation is the decline in biodiversity. Biodiversity is important for ecological stability, agriculture, medicine, recreation, beauty and commercial value. There are about 5 to 80 million species living on this planet (Lawton and May 1995). Tropical rainforests cover about 7% of the world, but are home to more than half of the world’s living species. After a forest is cut down, many species cannot live without it and are likely to become extinct. Since we depend on these species for many resources, their extension will rob us of their benefits. Maybe we can destroy the next cure for AIDS through deforestation and we don’t know.
The negative effects of deforestation are being noticed worldwide. Many countries are taking steps to reduce the problem for a more sustainable land. Unfortunately there is also high profit and competition with deforestation, and for some the only means of survival. Most people are not educated about the long-term consequences their actions can cause. Due to these reasons deforestation is still a reality in the world in many countries.
With more international involvement, countries will take effective steps to bring deforestation to sustainable levels. But there is still great work to be done. For some forests it is not too late to restore them quickly. Other clear-cut forests can take centuries to grow back to their original state. Areas where pesticides have been used may have damaged the ecosystem and may take a long time to grow again. Many forests were planted with large bananas. These plants use pesticides that kill many species that are important for the ecosystem to survive. Erosion caused by deforestation may cause more water pollution in the future and may affect agriculture in the area. Other reasons for deforestation are simply to provide room for trails, housing and commercial development caused by urban sprawl. These types of developments completely destroy the forests. Deforestation is a major threat to the future of life on our planet. It has significant effects on our world’s climate. It leads to the loss of millions of species that are essential in maintaining a living planet.
As we discuss the causes of deforestation, we know that these things are very different. Because the causes are often controlled by countries’ economy, population density and many other social factors, it is impossible to find a solution to deforestation. Although there are many solutions, it will take time and cooperation of many different groups of people and organizations to make the solutions work.
A popular solution that has worked for decades is forest conservation. We can work internationally, regionally, and locally with organizations to develop policy and corporate action to help ensure a sustainable future for forests. Conservation helps protect, manage, and restore the world’s most important forests by identifying threats and developing solutions to them.
Reduce the amount of products produced as a result of deforestation. For example, using materials other than wood to build houses, furniture and other common products made of wood. Encourage recycling so people don’t go back to wood again. Switching from wood to other materials will reduce the demand/supply for wood.
Develop more efficient farming methods to encourage land reuse.
Educate people around the world about the negative effects of deforestation, and what we can do to prevent it. Help fund more education programs. Help countries make the right economic decisions.
Sign international agreements and make laws/regulations to control annual deforestation.
Import meat and dairy products from non-deforestation markets.
The solution that I believe will be very effective is the second one. As far as cutting trees, this is a very functional solution. We have many products made of wood today. As economies grow around the world, the middle class will also grow. This middle class will demand more and more products made of wood. The American middle class is obsessed with wood products and we don’t even know it. Many houses are built of wood, and so are our utensils. Most cabinets only require a lot of wood. If we want wood products then it will be the rest of the world.
The solution is to take many wood products and find other uses for them. This is certainly not as easy as it sounds, but it is very possible. Once done, it will reduce the demand for wood, thus reducing deforestation. With such great advances in technology we can travel in space and replace minds. So it is possible to make materials that are safe for the environment and replace wood. Maybe even make materials that share most of the properties that wood has. We can even make materials that simulate wood as “burnt wood” in our cars today. This “burnt wood” in most cars isn’t even wood anymore, it’s a type of plastic and shaped to mimic the look of wood. Speaking of the auto industry, I can’t believe how advanced our cars have become. These are the cars we drive every day. However we live in new houses built with the old method of wood and nails. I think it’s ridiculous. Perhaps the solution to replace wood with alternative materials will also lead to more efficient assembly methods and a safer environment. And most importantly the first solution is to change our behavior to help prevent deforestation.
Them Depletion of Forest Resources is a big problem with challenging solutions, let’s work as a team around the world to help solve these issues.
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