DEFORESTATION – WHAT IS IT, WHY IS IT IMPORTANT AND WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP?


Deforestation is one of the biggest problems relating to our environment today. Deforestation is the permanent removal of trees to make space. For example, the land could be cleared for agricultural purposes or grazing, construction or manufacturing, or simply to use the timber for fuel.


Trees are important for a number of reasons, with the main reason being that they absorb the carbon dioxide that we exhale and they trap greenhouse gases that human activities emit by acting as a carbon store. This means that when the trees are cut down, the carbon dioxide that they have been storing is released into the atmosphere, which adds to the greenhouse gas layer and increases global warming. Forests help people to thrive and survive because they globally provide 41 million people with a job relating to the forest sector and 13.2 million people with a job within the forest sector. The forests covering our planet are also crucial to the survival of many animals. This is because 80% of the world’s land-based species (for example, elephants and rhinos) live within this environment.


Despite the importance of keeping forests, they are under threat around the world, jeopardising their advantages. It was estimated that in 2019, the tropics lost close to 30 football fields worth of trees every single minute. This makes deforestation a big concern in tropical rainforests because they provide an ecosystem for a large number of the world’s biodiversity. According to the World Wildlife Fund, forests cover more than 30% of the Earth’s land surface and they provide a number of resources such as food, medicine and fuel for more than a billion people. However, they are disappearing at an alarming rate as about 17% of the Amazonian rainforest has been destroyed over the past 50 years, and the losses are rising. Within the Amazon rainforest, more populated areas, roads and rivers, and even remote areas have been encroached upon in order to extract valuable mahogany, gold and oil when they have been discovered.


As you can see, deforestation poses major problems and threats to our planet and the animals that live within these ecosystems. This is why it is absolutely crucial that we reduce the rate of deforestation that is occurring so we can save our natural rainforest and forest areas and save many animals from extinction. We can develop alternatives to deforestation such as adopting sustainable farming practices and using new farming technologies and crops, replanting trees in cleared areas and allowing forest ecosystems to regenerate over time. The sooner we reforest a cleared area, the quicker the ecosystem can repair itself and wildlife will then return, water systems will re-establish, carbon will be sequestered and soils will be replenished. We can all do our part to reduce the rate of deforestation by buying certified wood products, going paperless where possible, limiting our consumption of palm oil and even planting trees when possible.


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