Introduction on Deforestation:
Deforestation is the excessive removal of the forest. Forests have been cut down in order to make room for agriculture, wood, construction, and manufacturing. The rapid advancement of today’s world has raised the rate of deforestation significantly. In fact, around 2,000 years ago, 80% of Western Europe was forested; now, that number has decreased to 34% (1). Deforestation mainly occurs in tropical rainforests. This greatly harms wildlife as their habitat is being invaded for human purposes. One of the greatest contributors to deforestation is the slash and burn technique used by farmers. Through this method, forested land is cut and any remains are burnt. Despite its immense environmental harm, the slash and burn method is popular among farmers because the ashes from the burning provides the deforested land with nutrition, facilitating agricultural practices (2). Overall, deforestation is a urgent issue that often goes unnoticed since it is driven by the needs of modern society. Deforestation threatens both the environment and the forest wildlife. Spreading awareness, employing sustainable practices, and addressing the impact of deforestation are steps that will help mitigate the negative consequences deforestation has for current and future generations.
Impact of Deforestation:
Deforestation exacerbates climate change. The slash and burn method used in agriculture releases carbon dioxide into the air. As a matter of fact, about 20% of pollutant emissions come from deforestation (3). Additionally, deforestation decreases the number of trees. Trees, which play an imperative role in keeping the Earth healthy, are cut down from forests to obtain wood. Through photosynthesis, trees absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen into the atmosphere; this natural mechanism greatly mitigates climate change. Therefore, the dwindling number of trees indirectly contributes to climate change.
Moreover, deforestation increases the likelihood of wildfires. Reducing the trees and surrounding vegetation dries out the forests, leading to increased risks of fire. Newly-razed forests are even more susceptible to fires during arid climates.
Although the environmental impact of deforestation are grave, its impact on wildlife is even more harmful. 70% of wildlife lives in the forest; hence, deforestation directly harms these animals (4). Only 3.2 acres of forest remain today, and the animals, which used to thrive, are being eliminated because of deforestation (4). Once the animals lose their homes, their chances of being extinct rises. According to the World Animal Foundation, “the planet is losing an estimated 137 species of plants, animals and insects every day due to deforestation” (5).
What can we do?:
The first steps that we can take to overcome the deforestation crisis is to plant more trees. Families can plant trees in their backyards and schools can plant more trees on their campus. There are many organization, like One Tree Planted and A Living Tribute, that are committed to restoring the damaged ecosystem resulting from excessive deforestation. Youth can be a part of these organizations to make a positive impact on our environment.
We may not be able to directly prevent deforestation. However, we can all spread awareness in our homes, schools, and global community through campaigns and also organize fundraisers that support organizations like One Tree Planted and A Living Tribute. These advocacy practices will greatly help with confronting and eventually solving the global deforestation issue. Although deforestation cannot be completely eliminated, we can still slow it down by planting more trees and spreading awareness. With collective efforts, our community can combat the harmful effects of deforestation and create a more sustainable future for current and generations to come.
“Deforestation.” Education, education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/deforestation/. Accessed 20 Jan. 2024.
“Our Impact: Slash and Burn Agriculture: Ecologic Development Fund.” EcoLogic, www.ecologic.org/our-impact/challenges/slash-and-burn-agriculture. Accessed 20 Jan. 2024.
Measuring Carbon Emissions from Tropical Deforestation--an Overview, www.edf.org/sites/default/files/10333_Measuring_Carbon_Emissions_from_Tropical_Deforestation--An_Overview.pdf. Accessed 21 Jan. 2024.
“Deforestation: Clearing the Path for Wildlife Extinctions.” Deforestation: Clearing The Path For Wildlife Extinctions - Wild Earth News & Facts, www.earthandanimals.com/advocate/wild-earth/params/post/1278141/deforestation-clearing-the-path-for-wildlife-extinctions. Accessed 20 Jan. 2024.
“COP26: This Is How Mass Deforestation Is Wiping out Species around the World.” ABC News, ABC News Network, abcnews.go.com/US/mass-deforestation-wiping-species-world/story?id=78564880. Accessed 20 Jan. 2024.