Friday, April 3, 2015

Deforestation Is About More Than Clearing Forests

                                            Deforestation in Indonesia

Deforestation has been a common problem for decades now. Regions, like Latin America, South America and Asia, have large forested areas that are prone to being cut and burned down. This is due to illegal logging and converting land so it can be used for agriculture and livestock purposes. One major concern with deforestation is the effect it has on climate change. Forests store large amounts of carbon and when trees are cut down that carbon is released into the atmosphere. Deforestation accounts for 11% of anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

 It was recently reported by the UN that deforestation had decreased by 25%. However, another study showed that deforestation has actually increased from 4 million hectares per year to 6.5. Some countries are working toward reforestation projects, which can be difficult due to the regions laws and governments. Some people are not concerned with deforestation since land can be used to plant cash crops. Satellite data is now being used to assess deforestation and conservation efforts. There is hope that this technology will hold regions more accountable for their conservation efforts, or lack there of. 

With deforestation still on the rise there is concern that local and global temperatures and rainfall will be impacted. Changes in the climate around the Amazon rainforest have been noticed. The dry season has been lasting longer, transpiration has decreased and rain and cloud coverage have also changed. Deforestation is not caused by only a handful of countries were forests are located. It has become an issue that most countries around the globe contribute to. More than a third of deforestation is due to the consumption of products like beef, palm oil, wood and soy.

·                                                            Cattle grazing on a deforested area of land

 The loss of forests can also impact the wildlife that depends on forests for their habitat. The monarch butterfly population has decreased due to deforestation in the Mexican forest. The butterflies rely on canopy coverage to protect them from cold temperatures and rain when they migrate there during the winter. With deforestation rates decreasing in that area, there is hope that the monarch population will see an increase. Local landowners receive payment from government to help with conservation and restoration projects. It’s also beneficial for locals to preserve the forest because tourists travel to the area to see the monarchs.

 Deforestation isn’t just about trees being cut down. It contributes to climate change, impacts ecosystems and wildlife, and can impact economic opportunities, like tourism. With conservation and reforestation efforts underway, there is hope that improvements will be made that benefit local and global regions.

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