Deforestation refers to clearing, destroying or removing natural forests. Deforestation occurs by burning, cutting or logging depending on the method of tree clearance used.
Due to increased populations, more demand for food, greater agricultural subsistence, increased exports, industrial and economic activity, trees are cut, with the end result being deforestation. Whenever populations increase or people migrate within a country from urban to rural and even secluded areas, trees are cleared to build houses. Large areas of land are also cleared for hotels and building industrial sites. In many cases, countries seek to increase exports in order to generate income and as a result deforest forested lands to setup plantations and farms for livestock.
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The atmosphere and natural environment is negatively affected by deforestation. Deforestation causes animals, birds and organic life forms to lose their habitats as well, thus destroying biodiversity. Birds are either forced to migrate to new lands or disappear, whilst fresh water fish die as a result of soil erosion when deforestation takes place. Because of deforestation, trees are no longer there to provide protection from the sun, causing aridity, flooding, erosion and the eventual dry up of rivers. Rivers are an important source of life for people, as they are able to wash, clean and distribute water to homes. The absence of rivers because of deforestation causes many governments to spend millions of dollars annually in expensive water treatment plants and importing water. In other countries with widespread deforestation, droughts are frequent and intense, causing starvation and making it almost impossible to plant the very crops for which the land was deforested. The environment is also impacted by deforestation because of the large amounts of carbon dioxide that is emitted into the air due to burning. Large amounts of carbon dioxide and toxic compounds released in the air because of deforestation by way of burning methods are hazardous to human beings, since these cause cancers, lung diseases and many types of respiratory problems and illnesses.
To reduce the effects of deforestation, reforestation programs have been undertaken. Reforestation involves replanting trees so that soil erosion can be reduced, river and fresh water sources can be retained and natural plant and animal life forms can be protected. In certain countries, the negative impact of deforestation has been so severe that very little can be done to reverse the effects through reforestation since hardly anything is able to grow. Where it can be afforded, green house projects are implemented to provide an ‘artificial’ but natural environment for growing plants and vegetables, as well as creating natural habitats for living organisms.
Now that the world is aware of the ravaging consequences of deforestation and has seen proof of the damage that deforestation causes, a greater effort should be made by every individual and by governments to stop deforestation and to make efforts to recuperate lost trees, plant and animal life forms.