What are some of the effects of deforestation?

The reduction of forested areas results in loss of biodiversity.

Some of the main effects of deforestation include loss of biodiversity, local climate change and global warming. Farmers often have trouble growing crops, which often results in more problems, such as rising food prices. Soil erosion and cultural displacement can also occur. Those who want to solve the problem have a variety of options, however.

loss of biodiversity

Recycling is a way to fight deforestation.

Biodiversity loss usually occurs after a reduction in the amount of forested land. Trees, shrubs and other plants provide shelter, food and shade for a huge variety of bacteria, fungi, insects, animals and birds. When deforestation occurs, it is often much more difficult for the environment to sustain this variety, simply because not all organisms can survive in the same habitat or conditions.

Deforestation is the removal of all trees from an area and the use of the land for other purposes.

According to National Geographic, up to 70% of the world’s plants and animals live in forests. Experts from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the World Wildlife Fund and other environmental groups believe that, because of this problem, the planet has already lost thousands of species and could lose thousands more.

Local Climate Change

Extensive removal of trees can lead to drying of the soil.

Plants release moisture into the air as a result of cellular respiration, the complex metabolic process by which living things obtain energy. Leaves and branches also filter sunlight and prevent it from reaching the ground directly, so in most cases the soil and air under the forest canopy remain moist and relatively cool. When trees are removed, the soil often begins to dry out and cannot support as many living things, and local temperatures rise due to lack of shade. Rain typically occurs less frequently due to a lack of water vapor in the air. Some scientists argue that one of the biggest effects of deforestation is a massive increase in desert terrain, as soil deprived of constant moisture can eventually turn to barren sand.

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Agricultural and financial losses

Using resources sustainably is not only beneficial to humans, it helps to preserve biodiversity and protect resources and land for the future.

The local climate change that occurs with deforestation can have devastating effects on farmers. With less rain, crops often don’t get enough water to thrive and produce a good yield, and food shortages sometimes occur. Decreased supply often causes crop prices to rise, which can have far-reaching economic effects across the world. Rising costs do not always ensure that farmers can afford their operating expenses, and many farmers end up barely making ends meet, taking out loans or even filing for bankruptcy. Even when irrigation systems are available, lack of precipitation often lowers the water table, making using these systems a greater challenge.

Soil erosion

The roots and stems of plants create an intricate web that makes it harder for dirt to be swept away by forces like wind and water. With fewer plants, this natural structure becomes less effective at holding the soil in place, and erosion becomes more likely, especially if deforestation has already caused the soil to become extremely dry. When rains happen, landslides can occur more easily.

Global warming

Trees and other plants convert carbon dioxide into breathable oxygen. Deforestation means there aren’t as many plants to do this process. To complicate matters, whenever plants burn – which can happen intentionally to clear the land or naturally, as in lightning – they release carbon dioxide into the air. This natural gas makes it harder for heat to escape Earth back into space, potentially contributing to the greenhouse effect and increasing global warming.

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The rise in world temperatures over time is a hotly debated topic, with some individuals even going so far as to say that the entire concept of global warming is nothing more than a hoax supported by radical environmentalists. Most of the scientific community, however, recognizes it as a reality, although there is some debate about the underlying causes. Scientists often warn about the significant long-term effects of climate change, such as the lack of habitat for species like polar bears due to melting arctic ice.

Cultural Displacement

In many cases, the people who live in a forested area do not have legal rights to the property. They are there simply because their ancestors were there, and because the land remained suitable enough to sustain continued generations over time. Companies that want to develop these regions sometimes make efforts to help native people transition into a more industrial lifestyle, but often, groups are simply pushed out of the way onto different land. These individuals generally have to adapt quickly to survive, and even when they do, the changes they often accept put them at risk of losing their traditional ways of life.

Addressing the Problem

Planting more trees is a simple way to fight the negative effects of deforestation, but depending on the species used, people usually have to wait many years before the forest matures. It takes even more time for other organisms to get used to the area and make it their own in a distinct ecosystem. The high rate of destruction, therefore, requires that people also take more immediate steps to fix the problem.

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Some individuals and businesses are taking a stand for the environment by going paperless, using technology to communicate, perform tasks and keep records. Recycling also helps reduce the amount of trees that are cut down unnecessarily. Supporting groups such as the Forest Stewardship Council is an additional option, as is lobbying for increased regulations related to environmental protection and the power of logging, construction, road, mining and hydroelectric dam companies.

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