Deforestation is defined as “the action or process of clearing of forests” by the Merriam Webster Dictionary. Currently, 30% of the world is covered by trees, but with the current rate of deforestation across the globe, the world’s rainforests could completely vanish in just one hundred years.
Deforestation is mainly caused by humans, with most of it being caused by agriculture and logging. In order to plant more crops and create room for grazing livestock, some farmers participate in a process called slash and burn agriculture (the process of burning and cutting down trees to support agriculture). Due to the Earth’s dramatically increasing population size, more food is needed, resulting in forests being destroyed to create room for agriculture. Additionally, logging operations (some of which are illegal) are cutting trees to provide the world with paper and wood, but they are also cutting trees to create more living space for people.
What are the effects of deforestation?
- Deforestation causes habitat loss and food loss for many organisms; this leads to the extinction of many animals. It is estimated that 15 mammal, 30 bird, and 10 amphibian species will go extinct within the next few years in the Amazon Rainforest, with thousands more going extinct across the globe.
- Deforestation causes more than 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide to be released into the atmosphere annually, primarily due to the burning and cutting of trees. This is dangerous because the emission of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere causes global temperatures to rise. This also can cause weather and storms to intensify over time.
- The Amazon rainforest actually absorbs around 2.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually, as trees use carbon dioxide to perform photosynthesis; this means that the rainforest helps decrease the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. However, with the deforestation of the rainforest, the number of trees is quickly decreasing, resulting in less carbon dioxide being absorbed by the forest.
One of the best ways that we can help reduce deforestation is by shopping for products that are primarily made from recycled materials. By purchasing products that primarily come from recycled materials, we can decrease the number of trees cut down across the globe. Additionally, we should try to recycle as much as possible. Although most schools and offices have recycling programs, if there are no recycling programs in your area, you can always start your own! However, the best way to reduce deforestation is by consuming less paper in general.