WHAT IS DEFORESTATION, CAUSES AND EFFECTS

What is Deforestation

What is Deforestation
 

Deforestation is the widespread removal of trees. This term usually refers to people cutting down trees, but natural processes such as floods or fires can also destroy trees. Trees are often cut down to clear land for other purposes, such as agriculture, or to save wood from fallen trees.

 Regardless of the reason for deforestation, the result is always the same: the destruction of living things that once played an important role in protecting our planet.
The link between pollution from industrial agriculture and deforestation
 
Every year, the agricultural industry produces and kills billions of animals for human consumption. Unfortunately, this process not only harms animals, it also harms our planet.
 
Factory farms force thousands of animals to live together in confined spaces. These factories produce so much waste that it pollutes the surrounding air, water and soil, causing widespread health problems in nearby areas. And the negative effects of factory farm pollution spill over to the surrounding areas. Animal waste pollutes the atmosphere and accelerates climate change and poses an existential threat to communities around the world.
 
Forests protect themselves against the threat of climate change by serving as a "carbon sink". Plants absorb carbon dioxide, removing excess greenhouse gases from the air and turning it into the oxygen we breathe. The "greenhouse effect" occurs when more greenhouse gases remain in the atmosphere, trapping heat from the sun and increasing global temperatures. Scientists say that most of the human-caused climate change is the greenhouse effect. When humans cut down forests, greenhouse gases from industrial farms remain in the atmosphere, contributing to climate problems.
 
Humans can live without factory farms, but we can't live without clean air to breathe. If deforestation and factory farming continue unabated, our planet and species are headed for disaster.


What causes deforestation? 

Generally speaking, human activity is the cause of deforestation. Many companies clear and grow forest land for their own purposes, including agriculture, forestry, mining, and logging.

 Animal agriculture
 
To meet the global demand for meat, meat producers are converting ecologically important forest habitat to land for grazing and growing animal feed like soybeans and corn. FAO reports that large-scale commercial agriculture accounted for 40% of deforestation between 2000 and 2010, accounting for animal agriculture. 

Tropical rainforests are the most diverse ecosystems in the world, home to a variety of exotic orchids, small amphibians and great apes. Their destruction threatens the permanent destruction of thousands of unique plants and animals. The agency said: "The demand for more land for raising livestock and growing animal feed is a major cause of deforestation, especially in Latin America." And the damage did not end with the destruction of the forest: “In a few years, overgrazing, compaction and loss of nutrients turn the cleared forest land into a barren land.

Livestock Ranching

Among all types of agriculture, cattle ranching claims to be the most forested. Cattle producers have cleared more than 45 million hectares (or 111 million acres) of tropical forests to make room for their livestock. That's about 84 million square feet.

 Cattle ranching has already destroyed millions of acres of South America's Amazon rainforest, the world's largest rainforest. Readers have exposed JBS, the world's largest meat producer, as illegally clearing protected Amazon forest land for ranching. Brazilian companies have pledged to eliminate deforestation from its supply chain by 2035, but those promises may be too little, too late. Environmentalists say the industry's commitment is "inadequate" as deforestation rapidly increases and the threat of irreversible climate change looms ever closer.

 Growing animal feed

Soy production causes massive deforestation. Although the food industry processes some of these soybeans into tofu, soy sauce and other products for human consumption, the majority of soybean production (about 75 percent) is food for domestic animals. 

As soy production has encroached on previously forested land, Brazil's Cerrado savannah has lost half its forest to agriculture. An investigation into the meat supply chain reveals the link between Cerrado deforestation and factory farming around the world. Industrial farms in the UK import soya grown in this region to feed their chickens, who also supply meat from industrial chickens to food companies such as McDonald's and Tesco.
 
Thanks to a new tool from Mighty Earth, it is now possible to see exactly which companies are responsible for most of the deforestation in the Amazon and the Brazilian Cerrado. The Soy & Cattle Deforestation Tracker supports soy farmers and ranchers who rely on their land for deforestation. The world's largest meat company, JBS, tops the list with 100,711 hectares, 74,701 of which Mighty Earth says may have been cleared illegally.

 Unfortunately, as the international outcry over the deforestation of the Amazon led many companies to believe in illegal deforestation, they began to look elsewhere. As the destruction of the Amazon slows down, deforestation increases in the wetlands of the Cerrado and Pantanal. The Cerrado is now disappearing four times faster than the Amazon. As fires in the Cerrado reach record levels this summer, it is critical that these companies are held accountable for their destructive actions.

 Palm oil
 
If you look at the ingredients of many home-made products and processed foods, you will find palm oil on the list. In fact, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature, it is found in nearly 50 percent of packaged goods in grocery stores, from frozen foods to cosmetics. From palm kernels, companies add unscented and unscented palm oil to their products to extend the shelf life of their products.
 
Although companies use palm oil because of its low cost, growing palm trees and extracting the oil comes at a high cost to the world's tropical forests and the animals that call them home. Oil palm trees cover 27 million hectares of the earth's surface. These farms are destroying the forests and replacing them with "green deserts": areas devoid of biodiversity. This removes the habitat of many endangered species, such as the orangutan, pygmy elephant and Sumatran rhino, bringing them closer to extinction.
 
Although some efforts are being made to produce palm trees in a sustainable way, causing little harm to endangered species and their habitats, we can make a big difference by avoiding palm products. completely. Rainforest Action Network offers many resources for avoiding products and companies that contribute to the deforestation of palm trees.


Forest fire
 
Wildfires usually occur on the forest floor. Although it seems destructive, natural fire promotes environmental health by removing dead matter and making room for new growth. However, when humans start fires, forest elements can be irreversibly damaged.

 Although some human-caused fires are accidental, farmers and other land developers sometimes set fires intentionally to clear forest land. In a practice known as slash-and-burn agriculture, farmers cut down acres of forest and burn the remainder in hopes of restoring soil health. However, uncontrolled fires can do more harm than good. Fire can wipe out entire populations of plants and animals in an area, disrupting the ecological balance and reducing biodiversity. Research has shown that the loss of biodiversity caused by toxic agriculture and fire can have a negative impact on soil health, resulting in reduced crop yields and profits. 

Fires caused by agriculture have affected Brazil's Amazon rainforest. A record number of fires burned the Amazon rainforest and burned to ashes in 2019. Researchers found that fires are three times more common in cattle ranches in the Amazon, pointing to land clearing for cattle ranching as the main cause of the fires.
 
Forest fires in the Amazon are destructive to animals and humans. The smoke from these fires is already bad, but indigenous communities have suffered even more during this year's fires. Citizens are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 disease because the immune system may not be ready to fight the virus. In Brazil, the combined threat of COVID-19 and air pollution from forest fires has led to an increase in the number of hospitalizations among the population.


Unauthorized Logging

All over the world, logging companies cut trees and logs from fallen trees. In some areas, national or international laws protect forest areas from logging. However, companies continue to illegally harvest and sell timber from these protected areas. 

Economists say the illegal logging industry is worth nearly $150 billion, and 15 to 30 percent of all trees come from logging. Unauthorized plants. In a shocking 2016 investigation, US trade officials found that 90 percent of the timber imported into the United States and Peru came from illegal logging. The timber trade continues to damage forests as countries fail to implement laws aimed at protecting the Amazon and other rain forests.


Mining
 
Mining refers to the extraction of minerals and other materials from the earth. Mining companies are notorious for subjecting workers to extreme conditions, harming forests and the environment.
 
Just like the 'slash and burn' method of clearing forests for agriculture, mining companies cut and burn forests to clear land for their operations. Although mining causes less deforestation than agriculture, it causes significant air and water pollution to the environment.


Paper

 

Paper is one of the most obvious products of logging: after all, wood is used to make paper. In 2019, the US paper industry produced 78 million tons of paper and cardboard. Making one ton of paper requires 24 trees.

 The book's problems don't end with the production process, however. In 2018, 17.2 million tons of paper and cardboard ended up in landfills. When paper and other wastes end up in landfills, they release methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.
 
Even if it doesn't completely solve the problem, recycling your paper and buying recycled paper helps reduce the impact of paper and deforestation.

Urbanization
 

As people move from rural areas to urban areas, cities expand and the population increases in what is known as "cities." As people live in cities, their incomes and consumption habits increase, putting more pressure on forests.
 
To build infrastructure for the growing population, urban developers are turning to logging and mining companies for wood and metals, encouraging these companies to cut down forests for their work. When people move from small towns to big cities, they eat a lot of animal products and processed foods. Large-scale industrial farmers are converting the surrounding forests into farmland to meet new needs. In general, growing and fast consumption            

and the development associated with urban growth can be disastrous for the forest environment.


Desertification of Land
 

Desertificationt occurs when a fertile land becomes a dry desert. Desertification can occur in response to natural events, such as drought, but human activity can also play a role in accelerating this process. This happens when farmers overuse their land, cursing a piece of land to the point that the land is completely degraded.

 Trees maintain topsoil that contains nutrients by protecting it from wind, rain, or other weather conditions. Therefore, the removal of trees due to deforestation leads to desertification. And, in a vicious cycle, desertification actually follows deforestation. When the soil is no longer fertile for plants, companies move in and exploit the previously fertile areas.

 What are the effects of deforestation?

 
Forests aren't the only ones with millions of animal and plant species: their ability to capture atmospheric air keeps the planet alive for all of us. When humans destroy forests for long-term economic gain, we destroy the long-term survival chances of our species.


Effects of deforestation on humans
 
People living near forests experience the most immediate consequences of deforestation. These remote and vulnerable communities depend on forests for their livelihoods, because forests provide resources such as fertile soil for food and fresh, clean water for to drink

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  • Health

 
When humans destroy their habitats in forests, animals and insects seek refuge in human settlements around forests. The migration of animals into human territory is causing an unprecedented number of human-wildlife conflicts, which is not only unnatural, but also dangerous. Of course, animals can transmit viruses to humans. These diseases cause diseases called zoonotic diseases. \"Zoonotic diseases: diseases transmitted from animals to humans."). A 2021 report from the Harvard School of Public Health warned that to prevent the spread of zoonotic diseases, we must change our agriculture and protect our forests.
 
Unfortunately, zoonotic diseases have already spread in areas affected by deforestation. Mosquitoes spread malaria to humans, and mosquito populations grow exponentially when biodiversity declines. A 2020 study found "a link between deforestation and increased malaria, suggesting that in some cases protecting forests may be part of the malaria intervention." A 2019 study in an Indonesian village strengthened the link between malaria and deforestation: researchers found that a 1% loss of forest cover increased the incidence of malaria by 10%.

Malaria is not the only zoonotic disease caused by deforestation. A 2017 study linked the Ebola epidemic in central and western Africa to recent deforestation, citing "repeated contact between infected wild animals and humans" as the cause.

 Although its origin is unknown, scientists have hypothesized that the virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV2, was transmitted from animals to humans. Our immune system cannot handle this new emerging virus, leading to the spread of an epidemic that can become a global pandemic. The FAO warns that "habitat loss due to forest area changes and the expansion of people in forest areas" increases the risk of disease spreading from wild animals to humans. If we want to avoid future epidemics caused by the spread of zoonotic diseases, we must protect habitats by cutting down trees. 

  • There is no food security

Forests provide surrounding communities with clean water, food and jobs. Indigenous people take food and medicine directly from wild plants or grow crops on fertile soil. When companies cut down forests, these communities lose the resources they need to grow the food they need to survive, leaving them with food insecurity. Hundreds of millions of people depend on tropical forests for food, and the highest number of food insecure people live in densely forested areas.

 Deforestation exacerbates another dire situation of food insecurity.Agro-based industrial companies are converting forests into land for raising livestock, palm oil and soybeans to feed the growing population of urban dwellers. This process destroys the diversity and fertility of the soil, making it unsustainable for human consumption in the long term. According to the FAO in a recent report, "Forest destruction can be a threat to food security, but also a consequence of efforts to achieve it: the costs of destruction must be weighed against the benefits obtained". In order to produce more food, the agro-industrial complex clears forests, which worsens world hunger. 

Local people and their livelihood

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said that almost 25% of the world's population depends on forests for their livelihoods, including many of the world's poorest countries. The world's citizens experience some of the worst effects of deforestation, with deforestation displacing entire communities. 

In the Amazon region of Brazil, deforestation is forcing thousands of indigenous people to leave their land. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has completely removed protections for these communities, allowing large companies to enter the forest. Bolsonaro has also taken away rights from companies that want to protect their rights, urging Brazilian citizens to unite and fight the threat of deforestation themselves.


Effects of deforestation on the environment
 

The environmental impact of deforestation extends well beyond the forest. When we remove forests, we lose the important protection they provide against climate change, soil erosion and natural disasters like floods.

Soil erosion

Tree roots stabilize and hold the soil. Cutting down trees loosens the soil and exposes it to destructive rain and wind. Excessive deforestation by logging accelerates soil erosion.

 The researchers examined the effects of deforestation on loess, a layer of sand and silt composed of minerals. They found that the combination of agriculture, animal husbandry and logging led to deforestation of the loess of northeastern Iran, increasing soil and nutrient loss.

 Developing countries pay a particularly high price for soil erosion, especially when topsoil is lost, the nutrient-rich soil needed for plant growth. The island of Java, Indonesia, lost 770 tons of topsoil annually in the late 1980s due to direct deforestation. Farmers in the region lost about 1.5 million tons of rice, which could meet the food needs of nearly 15 million people. You have seen how cutting down trees can damage people's lives. 

Climate change
 
Plants moderate global carbon dioxide (CO2) levels as the gas circulates through the atmosphere and into the oceans, soil and other living things.
 
Cutting down trees releases stored CO2 into the atmosphere. But when we don't replant fallen trees, we miss an opportunity to continue removing more carbon from the atmosphere. This results in high carbon emissions that contribute to the greenhouse effect and accelerate climate change. 

Excessive deforestation through logging removes one of the most important defenses we have against climate change. If we stopped cutting down trees, our annual greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by 10%. This practice may be important in the fight against climate change, and climate scientists estimate that we will need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% within ten years. - the future to reduce the current problem.


Flood

Trees help control floods. Their roots harden in the ground during heavy rains, and the trees themselves absorb some of the rain. Their absence can cause severe flooding.
 
In 2004, floods killed hundreds of people in Haiti. Reports released following the disaster revealed that the destruction of 98% of the island nation's forests had caused the floods, deeming them a "man-made ecological disaster". Halfway around the world, deforestation for illegal logging has also intensified flooding in Kashmir, costing 18 lives in 2015. The researchers are clear: “when trees are removed from the environment, the rainy season can have devastating effects. effects." 


Effects of deforestation on biodiversity
 
Forests are home to thousands of unique flora and fauna not found in any other ecosystem. Because they support a great diversity of life, the destruction of forests can have a devastating effect on the world's biodiversity.


Habitat loss
 
The world has lost about 80 million hectares of forest since 1990, as industry clears forest land for agriculture, grazing, mining, mining and urbanization. This figure is not just the fallen trees: it represents the destruction of the habitats of millions of animals.
 
In fact, habitat loss is one of the greatest threats to plants and animals worldwide, and agriculture is "the main cause." When animals lose their habitat, they lose the habitat they need to live. Researchers have noted the decline of all human species due to habitat loss due to deforestation.


Wildlife destruction
 
Tropical rainforests are home to about 50% of life on Earth. FAO reports that forests provide habitat for 80% of the planet's amphibian species, 75% of bird species and 68% of animal species.
 
Habitat loss associated with deforestation does not directly kill animals; On the contrary, their population is slowly disappearing as "their birth rate decreases and the competition for food becomes stronger". Habitat destruction caused by deforestation leads to the extinction of 135 species of plants, animals and insects every day. This represents 50,000 species per year, lost forever.


Acidic oceans
 

Ocean acidification occurs when the ocean absorbs CO2, which lowers the pH of the water and makes it more acidic. Deforestation, along with other human activities such as industrial agriculture and the burning of fossil fuels, exacerbates this problem.
 
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the ocean absorbs about 30% of all CO2 emissions. As atmospheric CO2 levels rise, sea levels also rise, leading to increased ocean acidification.
 
Like the ocean, forests act as carbon sinks, in which trees absorb and store atmospheric carbon. Deforestation is forcing our oceans to take on more pressure from the warming atmosphere.
 
Ocean acidification is destroying the diversity of life in the ocean environment. When water becomes more acidic, it can dissolve the shells and bones of things like oysters, clams, sea urchins, shallow water corals, deep corals, and calcareous plankton. The negative impact of this is circulating around the environment, since large fish depend on these products for food. If deforestation and other human activities continue to lead to ocean acidification, the chemistry of the entire ocean could be changed forever.


What animals are affected by deforestation? 

Deforestation drives all kinds of animals from their homes, bringing them to the brink of extinction. One of the most heartbreaking examples is the plight of the orangutan. Orangutans live only on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo, where palm oil production has destroyed entire forests. Orangutans have seen a 25% decline in one year, largely due to deforestation. In fact, logging affects all great apes. Amidst human-caused threats such as hunting and deforestation, species such as chimpanzees and gorillas face "high risk of extinction in the wild soon, perhaps in our lifetime".
 
Unfortunately, many other species that are visible and popular are suffering from deforestation. The largest species of eagle in the world, the harpy eagle, depends on the forest environment to find any prey. Without forests, many harpoons die of starvation. Research also links deforestation to the loss of pandas, monarch butterflies and jaguars.


How can we stop deforestation? 

Researchers warn that if deforestation continues at current levels, the world will face a deforestation crisis that will "damage the health and well-being of future generations." To avoid irreversible damage from habitat loss and climate change, we must stop deforestation and promote their restoration. Taking these necessary steps to restore our forests could contribute to more than a third of the greenhouse gas reductions we need to make to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius by 2030 - the climate change mitigation target of set by the Paris Agreement.

 In halting deforestation and initiating reforestation initiatives, government leaders must take action to protect wildlife, the species that live there, and the communities that depend on them for survival. Scientists recommend protecting and maintaining at least 50% of the land and oceans as fragile ecosystems to "preserve the diversity and abundance of life on Earth."
 
One of the main things that the government can do to protect and maintain the forest environment is to return the land rights to the citizens, which prevents private interests from clearing the land. A study showed that in Brazil, the number of deforestation fell by two-thirds in areas where the indigenous people have acquired their land.
 
Although some private companies have made efforts to stop deforestation in their supply chains, deforestation continues. The truth has shown that we cannot trust human corporations to stop plundering the world's forests for their own financial gain. We need the government to step up and implement the necessary conservation and reforestation plans if we are to stop deforestation.

 What have we done now?

 
Rural communities are already taking steps to protect the forest land they depend on for their survival, and the government is introducing several policies to protect the forest. As a result, we are making progress to reduce the causes of deforestation worldwide.
 
In 2020, seven countries reported a reduction in deforestation to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Some countries have achieved this by strengthening enforcement of logging laws and requiring evidence that imported timber is being harvested legally. We can also see more governments introducing meaningful forest conservation policies, as 50 countries pledged to protect 30% of the planet by 2030 at this year's One Planet Summit. 

Although these trends are encouraging, we need to do more, especially when it comes to industrial agriculture and agriculture. FAO recommends that the government, for example, create "safe zones" protected areas, where agriculture is not allowed. In one, individually, we all can change our food system and upgrade the end of destruction.
 
Global wants for a meat leading to the massive, especially in the Amazon area. When we eat less meat, or reduce our meat consumption altogether, the meat industry has less incentive to destroy forests to meet global demand for its products. In fact, the United Nations report on climate change "describes plant-based foods as a great opportunity to reduce and adapt to climate change" and suggests other policies to reduce meat consumption.

 What you can do

 Deforestation doesn't harm the forest and the animals that live there: it harms our entire planet. Fortunately, you can help minimize the damage. When you include meat and dairy in your diet, you are removing financial support for the operations of livestock companies that are destroying forest land for their own benefit - an important step in protecting these habitats. Take action today by starting your plant-based journey. Make a difference today.

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