Eight thousand years ago, when humans didnt have an astounding affect on the world ecosystem, trees covered two fifths of the land. Since that time, the human race has burnt and chopped down half of the original forestland. According to Merriam-Websters Dictionary, Deforestation Essay is defined as the action or process of clearing of forests (www.m-w.com).
The act of deforestation could, in a matter of just a few decades, completely strip the earth of trees. Deforestation not only has a phenomenal effect on the ecological balance of the world, but its economic stability as well.
Tropical rainforests are disappearing faster than ever before. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that in 1980, the rainforests were disappearing at a rate of 114,000 square kilometers each year (Colchester and Lohmann, 1). More recent studies have shown a sharp increase in that number. According to a study completed by Friends for Earth, some 142,000 square kilometers of tropical rainforests were destroyed in 1989, and a further 200,000 square kilometers seriously degraded (Colchester and Lohmann, 1,2).
The Amazon Rain Forest is among the leading places ravaged by deforestation. The first estimates of the damage done in the Amazon were made around 1970, suggesting that little clearing of forest had taken place (United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, 7). By 1980, it is estimated that over 125,000 square kilometers of forest had been cleared (UNRISD, 8). The most recent deforestation measurements by the INPE (Space Research Institute of Brazil) show that by 1988, some 251,429 square kilometers had been deforested (UNRISD, 8). According to an article published in The Economist in April 2000, an official survey listed the damage of 500,000 hectares (1.24 million acres) were deforested between 1990 and 1995.
A new study, the article proclaimed, suggested that 1.7 million hectares 4.2 million acres of the Amazon forest disappeared last year (Brazil- Still Chopping, 2000).
Deforestation has a number of root causes, from agricultural purposes to increasing population. The most significant amount of deforestation is a direct result of agriculture and the need for food from the rising population. Most of the Brazilian Amazon forest, that stretched along the Atlantic coast was hacked down to make room for plantations of sugar, coffee and other crops as well as to make room for sprawling cities (Brazil- Still Chopping, 2000).
Throughout history, as the natives moved through the forest, they began to clear small plots of land for cultivation and living. Once the land was no longer fertile, the fields were abandoned and the rainforest quickly grew back. As additional immigrants began to settle in the area, they too began to clear plots of land, much larger plots. It was not uncommon for the new immigrants to clear 10 hectares, and only plant four or five because of inadequate burning or the underestimation of weeding a large field (UNRISD, 14).
Cattle ranching is another one of the highest reasons for deforestation. The UNRISD believes it to be the main land use in deforested areas of the Amazon (15).
The ranchers cut and burn vast amounts of land for temporary pasture. After a short amount of time, a year or two at the most, the land is abandoned and another large area of the forest is cleared, repeating the cycle. Once the soil is too poor for farming or grazing, the ranchers move on. Due to the high price of chemical fertilizers, it is more cost-effective for the ranchers to clear new forest than to recuperate the old pastures.
Some people believe that the rising income levels in the developed countries around the world is to blame for the increased farming and cattle ranching within the rainforests. The higher income, the more meat and food is eaten.
After all, the rich do eat more than the poor do.
Loggers and miners who are in search of gold, oil and tin are also destroying the tropical rainforests. According to Gallant, in his book Earths Vanishing Forests, an estimated one-half million prospectors are currently removing some 70 tons of gold a year from within Brazilian forests (5).
The environmental effects of deforestation are alarming. Deforestation increases atmospheric carbon levels; is a factor in species extinction; and also increases the frequency of floods and soil relocation. .