Deforestation can be defined as “the permanent destruction of forests and jungles in order to make the land available for other uses. Forests cover almost 31% of the land of the globe. Forests help people to survive and to develop. They are providing jobs for people and purifying the air and water. Almost 13.2 million people have worked in the forest sector and approximately 41 million have jobs in the sectors that have relations with the forest sector. Also, 80% of the animals and species live in the forests, such as rhinos and elephants. The forests are playing a very big role in maintaining climate change.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) around 18 million acres which is 7.3 million hectares of forest, which is almost the size of the country of Panama, is lost each year.
Deforestation is not something new, it has been practiced throughout history. And it has increased rapidly in the last half-century. According to the World Resources Institute, most of the world’s indigenous remaining forest’s location is in the North-Western Amazon basin, Alaska, Canada, and in Russia.
Deforestation occurs around the world but particularly tropical rainforests are targeted. According to National Geography, the world’s rainforests may completely vanish in 100 years if the current levels of deforestation continue like that. Also, according to GROD-Arendal, an United Nations Environment Program collaborating center, in 2016, many countries included significant deforestation. For instance: Indonesia, Brazil, Thailand, parts of Eastern Europe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and some parts of Africa.
According to the study by the World Resource Institute and the University of Maryland, Indonesia is the country with the highest deforestation. Indonesia has lost 39 million acres (15.79 million hectares) since the last century.
According to FAO, about half of the world’s tropical forests have been cleared or destroyed.
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Earth is losing 18.7 million acres of forests every year, and that this equals to 27 soccer fields every minute. Also, WWF estimated that 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation.
According to the University of Maryland, in 2016, global tree cover loss reached a record of 27.9 million hectares (73.4 million acres).
Causes of deforestation
Deforestation occurs because of many reasons. Half of the trees that are illegally removed from the forests have been used as fuel, according to the WWF and reports.
The common reasons for deforestation are :
- To make more land available for urbanization and housing.
- To make ingredients that are highly prized like items. For example, the oil which is made from the palm trees.
- Conversion to agriculture
- To build houses and rooms for cattle ranching.
- Harvesting timber to make commercial items such as furniture, papers, and homes.
Clear cutting and burning trees are the common methods that are used for deforestation.
Deforestation and climate change
Deforestation is one of the main factors that contribute to global climate change. It´s the second largest anthropogenic source of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, after fossil fuel combustion.
According to the associate professor of environmental science at Lasell College in Newton, Michael Daley, the impact on the global carbon cycle is the main problem that is caused by deforestation. Also, professor Michael Daley stated that “if the greenhouse gas quantity are large enough, they can force climate change. According to Greenpeace, about 300 billion tons of carbon, forty times the annual greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels, are stored in trees. Deforestation releases carbon dioxide into the air, it does not only lessens the amount of carbon stored.
According to an article in the journal National Academy of Science, the global vapor flows from the land have decreased by 4 percent.
Also, there are some other effects of deforestation. For example, loss of species, water cycle, soil erosion, life equality, and disturbance of native people.
Loss of species: according to National Geography, 70 % of the world’s animals and plants are living in the forests, and because of deforestation they are losing their habitats. And because of that loss of habitats the ”species extinction” can happen.
Water cycle: trees are playing a big role in the water cycle. Trees absorb the fall of rain and they produce water vapor which is released into our atmosphere. Also, the trees reduce pollution which is in the water, according to North Carolina State University. According to National Geographic society, more than half the water in the ecosystem is held within the plants.
Soil erosion: the soil is anchored by the tree's roots. The soil without trees can be easily blown away or washed away, and that can lead to vegetation growth problems. According to WWF, scientists have estimated that “since 1960, a third of the world’s arable land has been lost because of deforestation”.
World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
WWF has worked for more than five decades to protect the forests and jungles. It has worked with companies, communities, academics, and governments to protect the forested areas, to combat illegal logging, to promote certification for responsible forest management practices, and to reform trade policies. WWF has used many approaches in order to protect the forests. For example, place-based conservation, creating sustainable infrastructure, creating and properly managing conservation areas, promoting sustainable bioenergy, and influencing policy.
Place-based conservation: WWF focuses on the elimination of one of the biggest causes of deforestation, and it is the irresponsible expansion of agriculture. In this case, WWF uses two approaches: First, via REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) program to deal with the governments. Second, via the “ Forest Stewardship Council. This program is made to deal with markets and agriculture products.
Promoting sustainable bioenergy: for thousands of years people have used the forests as fuel, and today in the world there are 2.6 billion use the wood and charcoal as fuel for cooking. WWF is promoting the use of bioenergy and stopping the use of wood and charcoal. The vision of WWF is that by 2050 100% of the world will use the sustainable energy that comes from renewable sources and including bioenergy.
Deforestation is not something new, it has been practiced throughout history. Forests cover almost 31% of the land of the globe. They help people to survive and they are providing jobs for people and purifying the air and water. Almost 13.2 million people have worked in the forest sector and approximately 41 million have jobs in the sectors that have relations with the forest sector. And because of those jobs provided by the forests and the need of the people, that led to deforestation and contributed to climate change. Half of the trees that are illegally removed from the forests have been used as fuel.
WWF has worked hard and has done a good job to protect the forests by working with governments, academics, stakeholders, and others. But despite that deforestation is increasing each year. The international community should take this issue more seriously and should give more support to the WWF and UN Food and Agriculture Organization in order to save our planet.