Threats of Deforestation

Forests cover roughly around 30% of the world’s land area, but is decreasing each year. One major reason for this reduction is agriculture. Farmers are trying to keep up with the demands of the people and are persuaded to provide more room for planting crops or grazing livestock. Also, businesses such as logging operations, provide the world’s wood and paper products and cause for even further deforestation. Lastly, to accommodate expanding urbanization, forests are being cut down to develop the land for housing or businesses. Some deforestation is caused by natural factors such as wildfires and overgrazing but combining that with the human factors leads to an overwhelming rate.

Effects of Deforestation

According to National Geographic, one of the biggest impacts of deforestation is the loss of habitat for millions of species. ~80% of Earth’s land animals and plants live in forests, and many cannot survive or adapt to deforestation that destroys their homes.

Forests play a huge role in mitigating climate change because they act as a carbon sink and absorb up carbon dioxide that would otherwise be free in the air and contribute significantly to changes in climate patterns. It is estimated by World Wildlife that ~15% of all greenhouse gas emissions are a result of deforestation.

World Wildlife and National Geographic also state that deforestation is a particular concern in tropical rain forests because these forests are home to much of the world’s biodiversity. For example, in the Amazon, around 17% of the forest has been lost in the last 50 years, mostly due to forest conversion for cattle ranching. Deforestation in this region is particularly rampant near more populated areas, roads and rivers, but even remote areas have been starting to feel the effects of it where valuable mahogany, gold and oil are discovered.

Our water cycle can also be disrupted by deforestation. Forest soils are moist, but without protection from sun-blocking tree cover, they can dry out. Trees helps regulate the water cycle by returning water vapor to the atmosphere. Without these trees, many forests can become barren deserts.

One solution to deforestation is to manage forest resources by eliminating clear-cutting to ensure the forest environment remains intact. Cutting should be balanced between cutting older trees and planting young trees. Although there has been an increase of new tree planting, it is just a small fraction when compared to the amount of trees cut down each year.





14 thoughts on “Threats of Deforestation

  1. I know this is a hot topic right now, but one question I have is how much deforestation for paper use is going on currently. I would think that as the world becomes more technologically advanced, the less need we have for paper. Major corporations are trying to cut out paper and are going to electronic billing and memos. I think that the technology is actually benefiting forests and keeping them from being cut down. I do like the idea of eliminating clear cutting of land. This ensures that the land will be able to repopulate itself, but it takes time. I do know that what exists in the Smoky Mountains today is second growth. Back in the day, logging companies clear cut the land, but as we know, today, it is thriving once again.


  2. This is an interesting topic. I would love to see some figures on the long term effects of deforestation in areas that are allowed to recover. My neighbor is a retired forest service ranger, and he used to say that clear cutting was actually better for the forest, long term, than selective cutting. I am not sure of his credentials, but he seemed to have a good argument. He said that selective cutting often left the forest just as unlivable, for most species, as clear cutting. Selective cutting also made it difficult for some species to bounce back due to competition from their well established neighbors. He said that a forest that was clear cut could bounce back in only 10-15 years where as one that was thoroughly selective cut would take more like 20-25 year to return to its former state. Of course his argument does not take into account problems like erosion, but it is an interesting perspective that I think is worth consideration.


  3. I think that the approach to managing forest resources by eliminating clear-cutting is targeted at countries that have the resources to do so. I would be interested in knowing the amount of clear-cutting that takes place in developing countries where they might lack the resources to police logging. I think that a lot of places where clear-cutting occurs it is done by poor people with no other means (whether for farming, fuel, etc.). While I do believe that deforestation is growing problem, I do not believe that the answer is as simple as managing forest resources by eliminating clear-cutting. I believe that the socio-economic reasons behind the deforestation must be addressed if you want to slow down the deforestation happening around the world.


  4. Even if new trees are planted with the chopping down of older trees, it takes a large amount of time for those new trees to functionally live up to what the older trees were providing. Habitats are still being destroyed and species will still suffer. I think slowing down the rates of deforestation is the only thing that will be sustainable, but of course it is not that simple as the demand for food and an income is often what drives people to cut down the trees.


  5. Sustainable wood harvests are challenging to accommodate, because the amount of time it takes to grow wood for a new harvest. I think slowing down logging and timber operations is an easy answer to the problem, but not very effective. We should solve the deforestation problem by reducing the demand and requirements for wood products we have today, especially paper.


  6. Your blog was a good reminder of all there is to deforestation. I feel like over an amount of time i’ve heard most of this before. I think the only solution would be to plant a tree after one is cut down. My uncle works for a company called Sierra Pacific and I asked him one day what they do to prevent deforestation and he said they have many tree farms where they regrow and cut down trees. He said all the trees are at different stages and they are only cut once they get big enough. While I’m sure this isn’t a perfect solution especially for the animals that in habit these tree farms, it’s definitely better than just cutting down acres of trees.


  7. Deforestation is one of the many problems facing our current world. I feel that because this issue isn’t in the public eye as much as global warming is, it is often overlooked. With the increasing demand for food the problem with deforestation will most likely get much worse before it gets better. Experts think that we will have our nearest food crises by the year 2027. It is estimated that we will need to produce about 70% more food to feed the projected 9 billion people that will be alive. I think this projection will only increase the rate that we are currently cutting down forests


  8. I’ve worked in the lumber and paper industry for about 1.5 years. I can say that in the U.S. we are a very sustainable industry in terms of trees. We replant more than used each year easily, and we have good forest management because it allows for higher future profits for landowners. I’m much more concerned about the forestry practices of South America.


  9. It is sad that deforestation still exists in the world. I wish it was as easy as having a government implement policy to prevent it, but in some places there isn’t a strong enough government to do much of anything. I imagine there is also a lot of money involved in deforestation, so that is also a contributing factor. I suppose one of the last hopes for preventing deforestation is a reduction in demand of wood and paper products. Others have stated that many companies highly focus on reducing the amount of paper used in their workplace to reduce costs. This is great and a trend that I hope continues. Thanks for the read.


  10. Humans have burned half of the world’s biomass in the common era. I’m a bit more concerned by the lack of any international standards; you have things like the Sustainable Forestry Initiative providing guidelines for action, but none of the regulatory impetus. It’s always a difficult question in developing countries, because the people there depend directly on the forest for their livelihoods. The problem there is that they do need, for example, wood to heat their homes. The problems are many. Ignore even the environmental impact, and recall that forests provide so many resources alive– even more than as firewood. It’s the bounties of nature, in foraged foods and animals. Deforestation to service immediate needs destroys that long-term source of life, not to mention that each bout of cutting means you have to go further to get more. This vicious cycle begd for foreign intervention. As wealthy nations, it is our duty to provide aid to these people and help them engage in sustainable lifestyles. We were all there first. It is also an issue of human rights, as the wood smoke hurts the inhabitants of a residence. It is just clear that deforestation is not a solution, even if people say that action will hurt poor citizens of third world countries. Inaction will hurt them, and us, so much more.


  11. Deforestation has been a major issue for many decades. Sadly with the increasing population of the world and our luxurious human lifestyle, I don’t believe that planting a tree every time one is cut down would be enough. A ton of trees are cut down in the matter of seconds while it takes years for trees to grow. We simply cannot continue our way of life without detrimental effects to the environment, but we will still push the Earth to the limit.


  12. Deforestation has and will be a huge problem for a long time. The problem with this is as long as there is population growth, there will be deforestation to meet land and food requirements. So how do we solve this problem if it is directly proportional to population growth?


  13. Thanks for bringing up this topic. Deforestation is such an issue in the world. In my Nature in Energy class we spoke about how urbanization is increasing deforestation. In these areas, instead of farmland being developed buildings are being put up. This really does not help the situation as pollution increases and reliance of imported food increases.


  14. Interesting post! One thing I’ve read about is that many species of endangered animals need at least a certain area of contiguous forest to survive – kind of a critical mass of habitat. Once damaged rainforests can tend to degrade into small patches of trees. So this fragmenting of the forest can become a real problem for many species of animals.


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