The subject of deforestation and the effects that it has on theenvironment have been heavily debated for a long time; particularly over thelast few years.
Governments and large lumber companies see large profits in themass deforestation of forests and state that their actions are having few, ifany, harmful effects on the environment. Most people disagree with this andthink that the environmental effects are devastating and will becomeirreversibly disastrous in the very near future. Whether or not the prosoutweigh the cons will be hotly debated for years to come but the fact is thatdeforestation is harmful to the environment and leads to declining wildlifepopulations, drastic changes in climate and loss of soil. The loss of forests means the loss of habitats for many species.
Currentstatistics show that as many as 100 species become extinct every day with alarge portion being attributed to deforestation (Delfgaauw, 1996). “Edgeeffects” are the destruction or degradation of natural habitat that occur on thefringes of fragmented forests. The effects for the animals include greaterexposure to the elements (wind, rain etc), other non-forest animals and humans(Dunbar, 1993). This unnatural extinction of species endangers the world’s foodsupply, threatens many human resources and has profound implications forbiological diversity. Another negative environmental impact of deforestation is that it causesclimate changes all over the world.
As we learned in elementary school, plantlife is essential to life on earth as it produces much of the oxygen that isrequired for humans and other organisms to breathe. The massive destruction oftrees negatively effects the quantity and quality of the air we breathe whichhas direct repercussions on the quantity and quality of life among both humansand animals alike. With this reduced amount of vital plant life comes theincrease of carbon dioxide levels in the earth’s atmosphere. With theseincreased levels of CO-2 come unnatural changes in weather patterns both locallyand globally. “The removal of forests would cause rainfall to decline more than26%.
The average temperature of soil will rise and a decline of 30% in theamount of moisture will evaporate into the atmosphere” (Delfgaauw, 1996). Thisleads to the global warming phenomenon which is also directly related to thedeclining amounts of forest areas on the earth. Soil erosion caused by deforestation is also a major concern among eventhe most amateur environmentalists:”When rain falls, some may sink to the ground, some may run off thesurface of the land, and flowing 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 periodbetween harvests isn’t long enough (Hamilton and Pearce, 1987). Some areas alsobecome “unbalanced” with the removal of tree roots as this removal can causeserious mud slides and unstability which can be seen in the in the tropical rainforests of Australia (Gilmour et al.
, 1982; as cited in Hamilton and Pearce,1987) and Malaysia (Peh, 1980; as cited in Hamilton and Pearce, 1987). It shouldbe mentioned that recent logging techniques have decreased the amount of soilerosion under most circumstances but it is nearly impossible to stop erosionfrom happening. Whether or not you are a radical environmentalist or just a regularcitizen, the consequences of deforestation affect us all. Living in BC we don’thave to drive very far to see land that has been clear-cut or to see massiveprotests by people of all ages who want to “save the forests” or “save theenvironment”. It is evident that reforestation projects are underway and in manycases are quite successful. Millions of dollars are spent each year(provincially, nationally and internationally) on reforestation and many expertsagree that this is helping provided that the time between harvest is long enoughfor the area to mature properly.
The projections we hear through the media makethe situation sound quite bleak but the fact is that private and publicawareness have lead to a decreasing amount of deforestation activity (from whatis projected) in many areas such as the Brazilian Amazon Basin (Dunbar, 1993). Forests are an important part of maintaining the earth’s biological andecological diversity as well as major factors in the economic well being of manyareas. If we can maintain a balance between the two and continue thereforestation efforts, the negative environmental affects could be greatlyreduced. Regardless, .