Deforestation is Choking the Earth

Forests are one of the most valuable eco-systems in the world, containing over 60 per cent of the world’s biodiversity. This biodiversity has multiple social and economic values, apart from its intrinsic value, varying from the important ecological functions of forests in terms of soil and watershed protection to the economic value of the numerous products which can be extracted from the forest. For many indigenous and other forest-dependent peoples, forests are their livelihood. They provide them with edible and medicinal plants, bushmeat, fruits, honey, shelter, firewood and many other goods, as well as with cultural and spiritual values. On a global scale, all forests play a crucial role in climate regulation and constitute one of the major carbon sinks on earth, their survival thus preventing an increase in the greenhouse effect

Deforestation is the conversion of forested areas to non-forest land use such as

arable land, urban use, logged area or wasteland. Historically, this meant conversion to grassland or to its artificial counterpart, grainfields; however, the Industrial Revolution added urbanization. Generally this removal or destruction of significant areas of for forest cover has resulted in a degraded environment with reduced biodiversity. In developing countries, massive deforestation is ongoing & is shaping climate and geography.

Deforestation results from removal of trees without sufficient reforestation; however, even with reforestation, significant biodiversity loss may occur. There are many causes, ranging from slow forest degradation to sudden and catastrophic wildfires. Deforestation can be the result of the deliberate removal of forest cover for agriculture or urban development, or it can be an unintentional consequence of uncontrolled grazing (which can prevent the natural regeneration of young trees). The combined effect of grazing and fires can be a major cause of deforestation in dry areas. In addition to the direct effects brought about by forest removal, indirect effects caused by edge effects and habitat fragmentation can greatly magnify the effects of deforestation.

The most important direct causes of deforestation include logging, the conversion of forested lands for agriculture and cattle-raising, urbanization, mining and oil exploitation, acid rain and fire. However, there has been a tendency of highlighting small-scale migratory farmers or “poverty” as the major cause of forest loss. Such farmers tend to settle along roads through the forest, to clear a patch of land and to use it for growing subsistence or cash crops. In tropical forests, such practices tend to lead to rapid soil degradation as most soils are too poor to sustain agriculture

Growing worldwide demand for wood to be used for fire wood or in construction, paper and furniture – as well as clearing land for commercial and industrial development (including road construction) have combined with growing local populations and their demands for agricultural expansion and wood fuel to endanger ever larger forest areas. Deforestation of all forms must be curbed by the developed and developing nations of the world on a war footing. The forests are the Earth’s lungs and we need to keep breathing.

By: Anil Tandon

About the Author:

Anil Tandon is a reputed automotive journalist based in India. Anil has written columns for numerous Indian dailies and auto magazines. He is currently working as a consultant to the Indian automotive industry. Anil is also involved with India’s Leading Auto Classifieds Site which is also India’s First Carpool Site.

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