Forests expand across the world providing breath taking, natural physical features to immerse oneself in. Occupying 31 percent of the world’s land surface, forests not only offer beauty but also provide a number of resources that are essential to both environmental and human growth (Kirk, 2016). We owe a great deal of gratitude to the various components that make up forests including trees, soil, and organic matter and their environmental contributions. These features each perform unique processes, trees act as a natural filter providing purification for air, water, protection from run off, and climate regulation (Adams, 2012). The forest is also responsible for providing goods including wood or paper as well as the storage of key nutrients vital for plant growth. For example, Guyana’s rich forests hold massive amount of carbon. When carbon is stored it reduces the amount that is lost to the environment and helps to combat climate change (Sutherland, 2017). Not only do forests cleanse the environment and provide nutrition, but they also instill balance within the ecosystem serving as a home to diverse wildlife (Erickson-Davis, 2017). Although forests provide many benefits to the people, deforestation is a relevant topic of concern that threatens their existence and hinders these contributions.
Deforestation is a distressing issue that involves the removal of Earth’s forests and occurs for a variety of reasons. The human population continues to grow and as with other environmental issues man takes priority resulting in the removal of Earth’s forests to provide land for settlement and agriculture. Not only are forests being removed for habitation but this land is often viewed by the government as an agricultural opportunity for prosperity. Global agribusiness is primarily responsible for Cambodia’s massive deforestation as the government is leasing land to timber and agricultural companies (Erickson-Davis, 2017). Similarly, in the Brazil’s northern Amazon agribusinesses are forcing local farmers off land in order to utilize the acreage for soya production (Vidal, 2017). Another large driver of deforestation includes removal of land for activities such as gold mining as well as the construction of dams. Guyana, a country with a rich supply of gold under its jungle cover, experiences this problem first hand as mining is a necessary evil that is responsible for much of Guyana’s deforestation (Sutherland, 2017). A third contributor to deforestation is high severity forest fires resulting from a combination of increasing temperatures and dry conditions. Areas around the world such as the state of California experience deforestation as a result of these devastating fires that also create a number of environmental concerns.
Fig. 1 This image shows the significant damage done to the mountains of California as a result of a roaring wildfire.
Although there are many different factors that contribute to deforestation they all pose significant problems for the environment and surrounding individuals. Deforestation not only burdens individuals that rely on its resources but its also has a drastic impact on the diverse wildlife living within it. Cambodia’s forests were once home to a variety of species however deforestation has endangered a number of species including the Indochinese tigers and colorful monkeys referred to as doucs (Erickson-Davis, 2017). The complete loss of species eliminates biodiversity and offsets balance within the ecosystem generating immense concern. The effects of deforestation also contribute to global warming, as there are fewer trees to reduce pollution levels within the air. Cambodia has experienced a build up of about 533 million metric tons of carbon emission resulting from fewer leaves to absorb greenhouse gases (Erickson-Davis, 2017). Next, deforestation creates ecological and social devastation leading to conflict between groups of people. The redistribution of land in Brazil has created controversy between farmers and the government as farmer’s claim that the government is illegally redistributing lands for personal gain (Vidal, 2017). Small business holders are being removed from land that is then being sold to bigger businesses to make profit from Soya production. Farmer’s are not only worried about possible remove from their homes but are also concerned about the potential social problems associated with the soya market (Vidal, 2017).
Deforestation has significant consequences however; the issue is not going unnoticed, as efforts have been directed towards eliminating the destruction of the forest landscape. In Cambodia the prevalence of endangered species has captured the attention of various organizations including the government. Specifically, the government granted official protection to swaths within the threatened forests and announced plans of introducing a new national park to preserve the forest (Erickson-Davis, 2017). Guyanese leaders have also directed efforts towards reducing deforestation with the help of funding from an organization known as REDD+. This organization works towards fighting global warming through protection of forests and provides funding that contributes to their efforts (Sutherland, 2017). UC Davis and the USDA Forest Service have also contributed to the efforts engaging in an experimental study to help foresters determine the areas where seeds should be planted immediately after forest fires and where conifer seeds will regrow on their own (Safford, 2016). The consequences that result from deforestation are concerning however, efforts from various countries and organizations such as these must persist to prevent further destruction to our forests.
Adams, E. (2012). World forest area still on the decline. Earth Policy Institute. Retrieved from http://www.earth-policy.org/indicators/C56/
Erickson-Davis, M. (2017). NASA releases images of dramatic deforestation in Cambodia. Mongabay. Retrieved from https://news.mongabay.com/2017/01/nasa-releases-images-of-dramatic-cambodia-deforestation/
Kirk, A. (2016). Deforestation: where is the world losing the most trees? The Telegraph. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/03/23/deforestation-where-is-the-world-losing-the-most-trees/
Safford, H. (2016). High severity wildfires complicate natural regeneration for California conifers. Science Daily. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/12/161221091348.htm
Sutherland, G. (2017). Guyana focuses deforestation prevention efforts on conservation and management. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://news.mongabay.com/2017/01/guyana-focuses-deforestation-prevention-efforts-on-conservation-and-management/
Vidal, J. (2107). Amazon rainforest’s final frontier under threat from oil and soya. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/feb/16/amazon-rainforest-final-frontier-in-brazil-under-threat-from-oil-and-soya