Effects of Deforestation

Forests are complex ecosystems that affect almost every species on the planet. When they are degraded, it can set off a devastating chain of events both locally and around the world.

Climate Change

Deforestation is considered to be one of the main contributing factors to global climate change. It impacts the global carbon cycle severely by not only reducing the amount of carbon stored but also releasing carbon dioxide into the air. This is because when trees die, they release the stored carbon. According to the 2010 Global Forest Resources Assessment, deforestation releases nearly a billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere per year. Moreover, deforestation has decreased global vapor flows from the land by 4%, according to an article published by the journal National Academy of Sciences. Even this slight change in vapor flows can disturb natural weather patterns and change climate conditions.

Species Extinction

70% of the world’s plants and animals that live in forests are losing their habitats due to deforestation, according to National Geographic, leading to┬áspecies extinction. It also has negative consequences for medicinal research and local populations that rely on the animals and plants in the forests for hunting and medicine.

Water Cycle

Deforestation destroys trees are important to the water cycle as they absorb rainfall and produce water vapor that is released into the atmosphere. Trees also lessen the pollution in water by filtering polluted runoff.

Soil Erosion

Tree roots anchor the soil. Without trees, the soil is free to wash or blow away, which can lead to vegetation growth problems. Scientists estimate that a third of the world’s arable land has been lost to deforestation since 1960. After a clear cutting, planting cash crops like coffee, soy and palm oil cause further soil erosion because their roots cannot hold onto the soil.

Soil erosion can also lead to silt entering the lakes, streams and other water sources, which lowers local water quality and contributes to poor health in populations in the area.

Disturbance of Native Life: 

Many native tribes live in the rainforests of the world, and their destruction is the destruction of these peoples’ homes and way of life.

Countering Deforestation

It is common belief that reforestation or the massive planting of trees effort help alleviate the problems caused by deforestation. For instance, it would restore the benefits provided by forests including carbon storage, water cycling and wildlife habitat, as well as rebuild wildlife habitats.

However, reforestation won’t reverse the damage completely. It cannot help with extinction because we have already diminished the population of many species to such an extreme that they might not recover, even with a massive reforestation effort.

In addition to reforestation, some other tactics are needed to tackle deforestation, such as shifting the human population to a plant-based diet. This would lower the need for land to be cleared for raising livestock.

The best way of tackling deforestation is by creating awareness. Local communities must be taught the negative effects of deforestation, and offered alternate means of livelihood at the same time, while encouraged to share responsibility and ownership of the environment they live in.