eforestation, the clearing or thinning of forests by humans. Deforestation represents one of the largest issues in global land use. Estimates of deforestation traditionally are based on the area of forest cleared for human use, including removal of the trees for wood products and for croplands and grazing lands. In the practice of clear-cutting, all the trees are removed from the land, which completely destroys the forest. In some cases, however, even partial logging and accidental fires thin out the trees enough to change the forest structure dramatically.
Every minute, forests the size of 20 football fields are cut down. By the year 2030, the planet might have only 10% of its forests; if deforestation isn’t stopped, they could all be gone in less than 100 years. What causes Deforestation? The most common pressures causing deforestation and severe forest degradation are agriculture, unsustainable forest management, mining, infrastructure projects and increased fire incidence and intensity. Conversion of forests to agricultural land to feed growing needs of people. There are an estimated 300 million people living as shifting cultivators who practice slash and burn agriculture and are supposed to clear more than 5 lakh hectares of forests for shifting cultivation annually. Since Industrialization and Urbanization needs land to grow, a major amount of forest lands are cut in order to promote Industrialization and Urbanization.
This creates harmful effects on the environment and forest ecological balance. Some infrastructure activities, such as road building, have a large indirect effect through opening up forests to settlers and agriculture. Overgrazing occurs when plants are exposed to intensive grazing for extended periods of time, or without sufficient recovery periods. It can be caused by either livestock in poorly managed agricultural applications, or by over populations of native or non- native wild animals. Poor forest management and unsustainable fuelwood collection degrade forests and often instigate a death by a thousand cuts form of deforestation. Basically, the root cause of deforestation is the increasing population.
More people, more demands, more is the clearing of forests. The needs also increase and utilize forest resources. To meet the demands of a rapidly growing population, agricultural lands and settlements are created permanently by clearing forests. Why are forests important? First and the foremost thing is that trees provide oxygen without which living beings can’t survive. Forests also take carbon dioxide, thereby, maintaining the Earth’s temperature. No trees mean an increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, mainly carbon dioxide, which results in global warming. Deforestation also causes soil erosion as it leaves the soil barren, making it infertile. Deforestation alters land and so that many of the plants and animals do not survive. With more deforestation, the entire species can become extinct. This is the ‘biodiversity loss’.
Many wonderful species of plants and animals have been lost, and many others remain endangered. As each species of an ecosystem relies upon other species, loss of one species can have far-reaching consequences for other species. We lose about 50 to 100 species of animals each day due to the destruction of their habitats. Millions of plants and animal species are on the verge of extinction due to deforestation. Deforestation leads to land erosion because the trees maintain the surface of the mountains. The water level of the rivers increases suddenly, causing floods. When it rains, trees absorb and store a large amount of water with the help of their roots. Chopping down of trees disrupts the flow of water and leads to floods in some areas.
How to fight Deforestation? Ending deforestation is our best chance to conserve wildlife and defend the rights of forest communities. On top of that, it’s one of the quickest and most cost effective ways to curb global warming. That’s why we ought to fight deforestation for a deforestation-free future. Trees play a vital role in protecting our environment in several ways so we should protect the forest: The best way to stop deforestation is replanting. Ban on cutting of trees and new trees and planting more. There should be an implementation of regulations of laws at organizational and governmental levels due to the extent of deforestation. Spread the awareness about sensitization and organize educational campaigns about the effects of deforestation.
Reversing deforestation is complicated; planting trees is simple.
Martin O Malley
Author is pursuing IG Environmental Science from Cluster University, Srinagar. She can be reached at email@example.com