Forests cover approximately 30% of the planet and they play an essential role in supporting life of all shapes and sizes. However, forests are rapidly disappearing due to a number of factors and it is estimated that if this rate continues; the world’s rain forests could completely disappear within 100 years.
Deforestation occurs via natural causes such as wildfires and over-grazing by animals, which stunts the growth of replacement plants. However, most deforestation is caused by humans. The biggest driver of deforestation is agriculture, as farmers cut forests to provide more room for planting crops or grazing livestock. Increasing urbanisation also results in reduced green space to make more housing etc, to keep up with growing populations. Logging operations, which provide raw materials for the world’s paper and cardboard needs, cut trees on a huge scale. Some of these operations are illegal and are done carelessly, creating more damage than necessary.
Effects of Deforestation
Deforestation can have a negative impact on the environment. The most dramatic impact is a loss of habitat for millions of species. 80% of Earth’s land animals and plants live in forests and many cannot survive outwith this environment – leading to endangerment and extinction of species.
Trees provide essential shade for the soil in many forests and without them, the land quickly turns barren as the soil dries up. With less trees, there is also less greenhouse gases absorbed from the atmosphere, which results in faster global warming.
The only way to prevent more deforestation or reduce the level of trees being cut; is to carefully monitor and control forests – disallowing logging and the rapid spreading of agriculture land. Logging can be reduced by increased recycling of paper and cardboard – which means raw materials (trees) are not needed in such vast amounts, as materials that already exist are being used instead.
It is vital we protect our forests and prevent the extinction of many plants and animals. The planet is not infinite and we must make changes to protect it and the resources it has.