Thursday, October 15, 2009

Deforestation and its Effects

Question: Many scientists consider humans as the most invasive species, as humans can greatly change an environment and impact living things that reside there. Are we being stewards of the world? Take a look at an issue in which human intervention has positively or negatively affected the biodiversity of our ecosystems.

Humans are considered as the most invasive species that can greatly change the environment and impact the living things that reside there. This is because of our increased consumption of natural resources that destroy every other living thing in that ecosystem. Our actions have a negative impact on the biodiversity of the environment. In this blog, I am going to talk about deforestation and how human intervention has affected its habitants and the entire ecosystem.

Deforestation is a permanent destruction of indigenous forests and woodlands. It is a very dangerous issue that has many effects on the ecosystem. It occurs when human beings cut down forests for their needs. Even though it is to satisfy their needs, it cannot be justified because it creates a major problem for the biodiversity of the environment. Biodiversity is essential to the strength of the entire ecosystem. We must save forests because they are essential in keeping and sustaining global ecosystems. Forests are a habitat for many living species. They give mankind a variety of gifts that contribute to our quality of life. They absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and produce oxygen needed for living organisms.
Causes of Deforestation

The main causes of deforestation are:
  • Urban and construction purposes: We cut down trees to make lumber for building materials, furniture, and paper products. Forests are also cleared in order to accommodate expanding urban areas.
  • Growing Crops: Deforestation is used to clear the land so that crops can be grown.
  • Creating Grazing Land: Forests are cut down in order to create land for grazing cattle.
  • Fuel: Trees are used as firewood or turned into charcoal, which are used for cooking and heating purposes.
  • Paper: We cut down trees for paper. We use paper for study materials, reading, and writing.
Some of the other causes of deforestation include: clearing forests for oil and mining exploitation and making highways and roads.
Consequences of Deforestation
Deforestation has a negative impact on the environment. They affect:
  • The carbon cycle: During photosynthesis, trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to form carbohydrates. When deforestation occurs, carbon dioxide is released that can cause an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. Carbon dioxide is a major contributor to greenhouse emissions. Deforestation can also affect cellular respiration because all the other organisms won’t be able to get enough oxygen from trees.


This is how the carbon cycle works and deforestation can have a negative effect on this cycle.

  • The water cycle: Trees draw ground water up through their roots and release it into the atmosphere (transpiration). In Amazonia over half of all water circulating through the region’s ecosystem remains within the plants. When there is deforestation, the region cannot hold enough water. This can lead to drought and heat waves. When deforestation affects the water cycle, it can lead to several problems:
  • Soil erosion: With the loss of a protective cover of vegetation, more soil is lost. Soil erosion can cause silting of water bodies such as lakes and dams.


This picture shows an eroded hillside along a river in Amazonia that shows an infertile soil typical of tropical environments (pinkish-tan) topped by a very thin layer of fertile soil and forest detritus (brown).

  • Extinction of species: Most of the organisms depend on the forest for survival. Forests contains more than half of all species on our planet. As the habitat of these species is destroyed, the number of species decline.


Here is an image of a number of species that have been endemic, which is represented by a dark-blue colour.

Deforestation can lead to other issues:

  • Global warming
  • Biosphere instability
  • Desertification
  • Climate change


The effects of deforestation are widely ranging and can be irreversible if not stopped.

Statistics of Deforestation

  • 81% of its original forest cover is permanently lost in Niagara.
  • The tropical rainforests of Brazil are less by 90-95%.
  • The forests of Central America are down by two-thirds lowlands.
  • India, Mexico, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Sri Lanka, the Congo and Ghana have lost more than 50% of their rainforest cover.
  • Harvesting of forest cover has left Afghanistan with approximately 25% of forests.

Solutions of Deforestation

We can stop deforestation by:

  • Recycling
  • Reforestation
  • Cutting down less trees
  • Reducing the use of fossil fuels
  • More awareness

Deforestation is one of the greatest tragedies and threats that can negatively affect the biodiversity of our ecosystems. People use forests for their needs such as paper, fuel, urban and construction purposes, growing crops, grazing cattle, oil and mining exploitation and making highways and roads. Deforestation can cause many severe consequences. Its most severe impact is the loss of habitats and extinction of living species. Deforestation can also affect the carbon and water cycle.

We wouldn‘t have to deal with the problem of deforestation if we thought of the consequences beforehand. We should try to lessen our dependency on forests for our needs. Based on my solutions on how to stop deforestation, the best option will be reforestation because there will be a balance of ecosystem and the rate of deforestation will diminish. Trees and plants are one of the best gifts that God has given to mankind. God wants us to be the stewards of this earth. He has given us dominance over all species so we should take care of our earth for our future generations. We should be environmentally conscious and use eco-friendly products for our daily needs. If we give more time and effort for the world’s conservation, the possibilities of reaching that goal will be high.

Here is a video on stopping deforestation: