rainforests is one of the most destructive human activities towards the
environment, which involves unrestrained clearing of vast areas of the forest.
This has quickly become a global concern, which has stimulated various
responses among countries. Therefore, this essay will investigate the causes
and effects of rainforest deforestation to provide an insight on this issue.
The causes are logging
and inappropriate farming methods. Firstly, logging is one of the most
predominant causes of deforestation.
Selective logging that is carried out by companies is mainly for profit,
as logged timber will later be processed into building materials and also
furniture (Golden &
Miller, 1994; McDonald, K.
Therefore, due to the large and consistent demand for wood both locally and
internationally, it is a highly lucrative and attractive business. For example,
valuable types of hardwood like mahogany and rosewood, which have a large
consumer base ranging from the Americas to Asia and also Europe, have been
actively logged to fulfill the demands of the market. In addition, trees are
also deforested by the poor. This is because, just like logging companies, the
poor harvest valuable wood, which can at least provide the people with basic
needs for survival. In countries like Honduras and Guatemala where poverty rates
are high and jobs are scarce, illegal logging has become the people’s only
source of income to support their families. Therefore, it is evident that vast
areas of rainforest are cleared to for economic purposes, either for profit or
inappropriate farming methods have also caused deforestation. In many parts of
the world, as a method of clearing land for agriculture like cattle ranching
and commercial crops, the slash-and-burn technique has been widely used. However,
many fail to realize that these intentional fires can spread past the bordered
forest areas. Therefore, this will cause a larger forest area to be burnt down.
As stated by Gillis (1996), cited in Golden,
A. and Miller, M. (1994), 80,000 square kilometers of rainforest was deforested
due to slash-and-burn agriculture. Moreover, excessive land usage has also led
to deforestation. As ‘shifting cultivation’ is no longer sustainable, land is
consistently used for agriculture. Thus, it will not be able to replenish its
nutrients, which leads to soil infertility. Therefore, farmers will need to
move to and clear a different plot to harvest on. For instance, in response to
the expanding population, farmers have reduced the fallow periods to increase yield,
which ultimately resulted in soil exhaustion and more trees being cut down.
Therefore, it is clearly seen that the rapidly growing population and demand
has resulted in the soil becoming depleted of its use.
destruction of rainforests are becoming more widespread at an alarming rate,
this poses a threat to the environment, which have to bear various
consequences, particularly, loss of biodiversity, soil impacts and also global
Firstly, biodiversity is lost as
an outcome of deforestation. Numerous species are highly specialized to
microhabitats. Hence, these species can only be found in small, specific areas
of the forest. As their habitants are
destroyed, these species are ultimately driven to extinction. Various studies
have suggested that rates of extinction range from 4000 to 27000 species a
year. Environmental biologist, David Woodruff of the
University of California, San Diego stated that ‘deforestation continues to
drive rain forest plants, birds, mammals and insects into extinction at a pace
even faster than that of the disappearance of the dinosaurs hundreds of
millions of years ago’. Additionally, a valuable knowledge pool is also lost.
This is because, 25% of medication development uses rainforest plants.
Therefore, destruction of rainforests will prevent healthcare improvements as
well as future discoveries. For example, one out of five species of a plant,
which is highly successful in treating two forms of cancer, was threatened by extinction
due to loss of habitat. Hence, protection of the rainforest is important to
ensure that research and development on alternative medicine can be carried out.
effect of deforestation is towards the soil. When the forests are burnt down,
the ash will initially be a source of nutrient to the soil. However, this will
only last for a few years before it is completely absorbed by the plants. Therefore,
combined with the inability of farmers to provide soil nourishment, the farmers
eventually leave the land for more efficient replacements. This continuous
cycle on the soil, globally, make up for nearly 70% of all deforestation. Impacts
on soil have also contributed to the occurrence of natural disasters. When the
overcutting of trees take place, the soil will no longer be held down which
causes it to be eroded by the wind and rain. This brings rise to devastating
effects like the loss of lives due to floods and mudslides. For example, as a
result of uncontrolled logging in the Philippines, floodwaters have swept the
island of Leyte, which lead to 6000 casualties. Hence, as a direct victim of
deforestation, soil in the environment has been depleted of its use while also
affecting the people around it.
deforestation has also greatly impacted the global climate change. This can be
seen in the rise of global temperatures. As plants are cut, less carbon dioxide
is absorbed by plants through photosynthesis. In fact, more carbon dioxide is
released into the atmosphere as the trees are left to decay after being burnt.
Therefore, approximately 20% of the world’s total carbon emission is due to
deforestation, which is just as responsible towards climate change as the usage
of fossil fuels in the United States. Furthermore, the concentration of fires
and hotspot areas have also brought rise to climate change. This is because, as
slash and burn agriculture is repeatedly used, forest fires have also occurred
more frequently. This is clearly seen through the forest fires in the Amazonian
region, which occur in five to fifteen-year intervals of what were previously
gaps lasting for centuries. Infrastructure development such as road building to
provide for the growing population has also increased hotspot areas. It is
portrayed through the location of an average of 24,000 hotspots in the Amazon,
primarily in Brazil from 2003 to 2006. Therefore, as more parts of the Amazon
increase in temperature due to agriculture and development, the world’s
temperature also becomes warmer as the rainforest is also a global climate
countries need to examine the principal causes and effects of deforestation of
the rainforest in order to devise suitable and effective solutions for the
problem. However, policy-makers also need to ensure that economic well being
including global trade and especially of the poor are taken into account while
improving environmental welfare.
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