Deforestation is a process in which trees are removed permanently to make room for non-forest uses such as farming, housing, construction, or manufacturing. Forests cover an estimated 30% of the world’s surface however this number is being threatened heavily. On average 2,400 trees are being cut down every minute and around fifteen to eighteen million hectares of forest land are cut down each year. There has been an estimated loss of 10 billion trees. The majority of deforestation happens in tropical rainforests. These rainforests are forests that have little to no dry seasons. In these types of forests, it is damp all year long. A good example of a rainforest is the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. This rainforest contains the largest diversity of species on the planet. It is also widely regarded as the lungs of the Earth.
There are several factors driving deforestation. The main factor is agriculture. When the trees are cut down they are used for building, timber or they are sold. The cleared land is then used either for farming or as pasture for cows to graze. The problem with this is that it also kills the diversity of plants in the forest. When deforestation occurs without proper plans for reforestation it can lead to the loss of biodiversity, extinction of plants and animals, and even desertification. A prime example of how deforestation can lead to desertification is the Sahara desert. Aside from the physical impact of deforestation, there are social impacts of deforestation.
- One of the social impacts of deforestation is its possible impact on tourism. Some locations are tourist attractions simply because of their wildlife and rich, lush forests. If they lose the forests, this can lead to a steady breakdown of the tourism sector. This will also lead to the loss of jobs which will mean less money available in the economy.
- The most important social impact of deforestation is how it will affect humans. If deforestation continues at this rate for the next 30 years, it could lead to the extinction of human life as we know it. This is because deforestation also leads to soil erosion which means the lands will become less rich in nutrients. This means less food and humans need food to survive.
- Trees don’t just provide oxygen they also provide respite from the urban jungles. Humans need nature to thrive.
- A fourth social impact of deforestation is migration. Deforestation also causes mass migration of local communities. Since deforestation leads to soil erosion, the livelihoods of smaller, local communities are threatened, leading to them needing to relocate.
- Deforestation results in habitat damage which means animals leave their natural habitat. This leaves them and humans as well, vulnerable to diseases they might contact from other species they normally won’t come in contact with. Some studies have linked the current coronavirus pandemic to deforestation.
While it is unrealistic to expect deforestation to end immediately, there are ways we can address deforestation and reduce the drastic loss of trees. One of such ways is reforestation. Another is biodiversity and a third is financing and protecting more national parks and reserves.