Deforestion

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Deforestation is a topic that most of us have heard about, if not directly. We see evidence of deforestation—from tree stumps to starkly empty ground—as we travel or walk across the world today. Urban and rural areas as well as jungles and mountains are all affected by deforestation. Taking trees from a forest for purposes other than their health or quality is known as deforestation. Agriculture (the need to clear land to sow crops), logging operations, and subsistence farming all contribute to deforestation. In subsistence farming, a small farmer uses trees for fuel and food to make space for grazing animals or a small plot of land for planting crops  (Ali, et al., 2014).

Forty per cent of the earth’s land surface is currently covered by forests, which generate a large amount of the oxygen we take in each day. When forests are cleared, trees lose more than just their capacity to produce oxygen; they also contribute to pollution in urban areas, where trees and other plants help to purify the air. It is estimated that an area the size of Panama is lost to deforestation each year.

It’s easier to build fields and houses when trees aren’t there. But this leaves the area more susceptible to landslides and other natural weather patterns because of ground instability. When trees die, the earth quickly dries out and loses all of its nutrients, which may then be blown away by strong winds. In forests, the ground remains moist because of the large amount of water stored deep in the tree roots. (Bodo, et al., 2021).

Because of the ongoing deforestation and forest degradation, biodiversity is dwindling at an alarming rate. Although deforestation has decreased over the past three decades, an estimated 420 million hectares of forest have been lost as a result of conversion to other land uses. Deforestation is expected to slow to 10 million hectares per year between 2015 and 2020, compared to 16 million hectares per year in the 1990s. There has been an 80-million-hectare reduction in primary forest worldwide since 1990. Deforestation and forest degradation, as well as the resulting loss of forest biodiversity, are still being driven primarily by agricultural expansion. From 2000 to 2010, 40 per cent of tropical deforestation was caused by large-scale commercial agriculture (primarily cattle ranching and soya bean and oil palm cultivation), while 33 per cent was due to subsistence agriculture practised locally.

Though deforestation is on the rise in some places, such as the Amazon, the total worldwide deforestation rate has reduced in recent decades compared to the 1990s and 2000s, going from 15 million hectares per year in the period 2000-2010 to 10 million hectares per year in the time period 2015-2020. However, there have been numerous large-scale climate changes documented throughout the Earth’s history, according to geological records. Natural variables like variations in the sun’s output, volcanic ash emissions, changes in the Earth’s orbit and carbon dioxide levels are to blame for these (CO2). In the past, global climate change has happened very slowly, over the course of several thousand to several million years. In spite of this, research suggests that the climate is changing faster than previously thought.

Additionally, trees contribute to the perpetuation of the water cycle by recirculating water from the ground to the atmosphere. Forests also help control the land’s temperature, and as they disappear, the earth’s temperature rises, contributing to changes in weather patterns and global warming. As stated before, trees are critical for absorbing and converting greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming into breathing oxygen.

Soil water not only improves forest stability but its run-off and evaporation also impact plant development in many habitats. Forests control water mobility in the soil environment by lowering the intensity of run-off. 420 million hectares of forest have been chopped down, which means that 1000 tons of biomass have been extracted from the earth for every hectare. A 1 mm layer of soil contains approximately 1 litre of water per square meter. In Peninsular Malaysia, soil depth and physical qualities were studied in a tropical rainforest and a rubber plantation (Noguchi, 2003). Rainforest soils range in depth from 1 to 5 meters. For the sake of simplicity, let’s choose a distance of 3,50 meters on average. This equates to 350 litres or 350 kg per square meter. A hectare is 10000 square meters in size. Given that 420 million hectares were chopped down, this equates to a loss of one trillion four hundred seventy billion tons of water. When the loss of biomass and the loss of water are added together, there is a total weight loss of one trillion eight hundred ninety billion tons from the surface of the grounds where there was previously forest and damp soil (Aleš Kučera, 2020).

This computation is critical because research indicates that the technosphere is another indicator of the tremendous human-driven changes impacting Earth. Although the technosphere is geologically young, it is evolving at a breakneck pace and has already left a lasting impression on our world (University of Leicester, 2016).

Deforestation is a major contributor to earthquakes, landslides and floods. Destruction of forests weakens and destroys the soil. Deforestation happens as a result of human avarice when people chop down trees for their own use and satisfaction. The soil loses all fertility and becomes a barren wasteland unfit for agricultural production. As a result of deforestation, more carbon dioxide is being absorbed into the atmosphere than can be absorbed by existing carbon sinks, such as forests. Droughts, tropical storms, heat waves, and wildfires are all becoming worse and more common as a result; As a consequence, forest loss will continue.

References:

  • Ali, A., Riaz, S. & Iqbal, S., 2014. Deforestation And Its Impacts On Climate Change An Overview Of Pakistan. Papers on Global Change IGBP, 21(1).
  • Bodo, T., Gimah, B. & Seomoni, K. J., 2021. Deforestation: Human Causes, Consequences and Possible Solution.
  • Bradshaw, C. J. A., SODHI, N. S., Peh, K. S.-H. & Brook, B. W., 2007. Global Evidence that Deforestation Amplifies Flood Risk and Severity in the Developing World. Global Change Biology, Volume 13, pp. 2379-2395.
  • Ostrihansky, L., 2012. Causes of earthquakes and lithospheric plate movement. Solid Earth Discussions, 4(2), pp. 1411-1483.
  • Silva, A. M. d. & Rodgers, J. C., 2018. Deforestation across the World: Causes and Alternatives for Mitigating. International Journal of Environmental Science and Development, Volume 3, p. 9.

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