The subject of deforestation and its effects on the environment have been heavily debated for a long time, particularly in recent years.
Governments and large lumber companies see large profits in the mass deforestation of forests. They state that their actions are having few, if any, harmful effects on the environment. However, most people disagree and think that the environmental effects are devastating and will become irreversibly disastrous in the very near future. Whether or not the pros outweigh the cons will be hotly debated for years to come. However, the fact is that deforestation is harmful to the environment and leads to declining wildlife populations, drastic changes in climate, and loss of soil. The loss of forests means the loss of habitats for many species.
Current statistics show that up to 100 species become extinct every day, with a large portion being attributed to deforestation (Delfgaauw, 1996). Edge effects” refer to the destruction or degradation of natural habitat that occurs on the fringes of fragmented forests. The effects on animals include greater exposure to the elements (wind, rain, etc.), other non-forest animals, and humans (Dunbar, 1993). This unnatural extinction of species endangers the world’s food supply, threatens many human resources, and has profound implications for biological diversity. Deforestation also causes climate changes worldwide.
As we learned in elementary school, plant life is essential to life on Earth as it produces much of the oxygen required for humans and other organisms to breathe. The massive destruction of trees negatively affects the quantity and quality of the air we breathe, which has direct repercussions on the quantity and quality of life among both humans and animals. With this reduced amount of vital plant life comes an increase in carbon dioxide levels in the Earth’s atmosphere. These increased levels of CO-2 cause unnatural changes in weather patterns both locally and globally. The removal of forests would cause rainfall to decline more than 26%.”
The average temperature of soil will rise and a decline of 30% in the amount of moisture will evaporate into the atmosphere (Delfgaauw, 1996). This leads to the global warming phenomenon, which is also directly related to the declining amounts of forest areas on the earth. Soil erosion caused by deforestation is also a major concern among even the most amateur environmentalists. When rain falls, some may sink to the ground, some may run off the surface of the land, and flow down towards the rivers, and some may evaporate. Running water is a major cause of soil erosion, and as the forests are cut down, it increases erosion” (Delfgaauw, 1996). The removal of wood causes nutrient loss in the soil, especially if the period between harvests isn’t long enough (Hamilton and Pearce, 1987). Some areas also become “unbalanced” with the removal of tree roots as this removal can cause serious mudslides and instability, which can be seen in the tropical rainforests of Australia (Gilmour et al.).
Deforestation has been a major concern in many countries, including Canada (1982; cited in Hamilton and Pearce, 1987) and Malaysia (Peh, 1980; cited in Hamilton and Pearce, 1987). Recent logging techniques have reduced soil erosion, but it is still difficult to completely prevent it. The consequences of deforestation affect everyone, regardless of their environmental beliefs. In British Columbia, clear-cut land and protests to save forests and the environment are common sights. However, reforestation projects are underway and have been successful in many cases. Millions of dollars are spent each year on reforestation, and experts agree that it can be effective if the time between harvests is long enough for the area to mature properly.
The projections we hear through the media make the situation sound quite bleak, but the fact is that private and public awareness has led to a decreasing amount of deforestation activity in many areas, such as the Brazilian Amazon Basin (Dunbar, 1993). Forests are an important part of maintaining the earth’s biological and ecological diversity, as well as major factors in the economic well-being of many areas. If we can maintain a balance between the two and continue reforestation efforts, the negative environmental effects could be greatly reduced. Regardless,