Over half of the worlds" forests have already been destroyed if the rate of deforestation is not reduced, the forests will suffer even more damage. Imagine this; every minute twenty-six hectares (estimated) of the forest are destroyed, this is equal to thirty-seven football fields. The forest is not only the home to some of the most important species on earth, but it also helps control the climate and makes the planet able for us to live in.
The expanding human population has cleared many of the trees, once covering much of the earth, a long time ago. Agriculture took a toll early of the landscape, and now the once great forests are reduced to tiny pockets scattered throughout the earth. Recently is when the tropical forests have become under severe attack of deforestation. Only seven hundred of the original one and a half billion hectares of the rain forest remain. At the turn of the twentieth century there was twice as much rain forest as there is today.
Causes of deforestation include; commercial logging, clearance for agriculture, roads and railways, forest fires, mining and drilling, fuelwood, and clearing land for living are just some of the main reasons, of which we have not found the worst culprit. The two most common found reasons for deforestation are shifting cultivation and commercial logging. The problem starts when the soil becomes less fertile from animals grazing and walking repeatedly over the small land space. This not the threat to the forest however, the threat is when the land is not allowed enough time to recover and causes soil degradation.
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Felling of trees for charcoal, and clearing trees for mining and the extraction of oil are other factors leading to deforestation, but are not considered as damaging as shifting cultivation and commercial logging. Nonetheless they are still a threat to the existence of the rain forest. When trees are cleared the topsoil erodes in just one decade, of which it took thousands of years to accumulate. The land is now unusable and can lead to disastrous flooding since there is no soil to soak up the rain.
The most disastrous effect of deforestation is the effect it has on the earth"s climate. The greenhouse effect and global warming is caused by the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere mainly. The amount of carbon dioxide would be greatly affected by the destruction of the rain forest; this would lead to a build up in the atmosphere and in result would increase climate change. Most of the burnt or rotting trees release even more carbon dioxide.
Scientists believe that only a small fraction of the plants and animals that live in the rain forests have been identified, and of these are believed to hold the cures for some of the most deadly diseases, such as cancer and aids.
An obvious solution would be for us to quit cutting down trees altogether, but there is no way we could do that. Forest management plans are being used all over the world, putting sustainability as the emphasis. These plans allow logging to take place by putting into the earth what we take out. These plans are carried out so that logging can be done with the least enduring effects taking place to the earth.
Some parts of the rain forests, which are labeled as too sensitive for even well managed logging, are restricted as protected areas. These protected areas along with the help of enforced legislation, can be an effective defense against the many problems that affect the rain forests.
The most important step in stopping the process of deforestation is to inform and educate the people whose actions either directly or indirectly create a problem for the rain forests. Developed countries and their consumers have to realize the devastating impacts on the forests from which the products cause that they buy. By doing this will be the only way we can stop the deforestation process and maybe eventually reverse it and the rain forests will flourish.
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