Can you picture our earth without forests? Many of us cant. Forests coverapproximately one fifth of the worlds land surface and play an important role inour everyday lives (Dudley 4). Forests provide us with many products andservices from helping maintain erosion to providing jobs for our citizens.
Humanity depends on the survival of a healthy ecosystem and deforestation iscausing many social, economic and ecological problems. One ecological problem isGlobal warming witch is caused when carbon is released into the air after theburning of forests. Governments and industries must become more aware of theseconsequences of their activities and change accordingly. They need to cooperatewith forest management and work towards a future that benefits all. Humans needto be educated about the current issues of the forests in order for us to save,preserve or sustain these places that provide us with so much. Humans dependtremendously on the worlds forests, but yet were the ones destroying them.
For humans, the forests have many aesthetic, recreational, economic, andcultural values. Timber and other products of the forests are importanteconomically both locally and as exports. They provide employment for those whoharvest the wood or for those who make products from the living forest. Forestsalso provide us with medical drugs, dyes and fabrics. There are many people whoare dependent on forestland for their livelihoods. One third of the worldspeople depend on wood for fuel as a significant energy source (Dudley). Not onlydo the forests provide some people with homes, but also provides a popularsetting for ecotourism, which includes hiking, camping, bird watching and otheroutdoor adventure or nature study activities. All these activities and productsthe forests provide us are at great risk from deforestation. Not only do forestsprovide us with all this but also protect soil from erosion and reduces therisks of landslides and avalanches. Trees help sustain freshwater suppliestherefore are an important factor in the availability of one of lifes basicneeds. Forests affect the climate and are also a very important source ofoxygen. One major factor that the forests carry is that they are the home toover one half of the worlds total species (Dudley). Currently we arediscovering 20 new species of insects and 15 species of plants each day (Dudley13). Recent reports by the World Resources Institute have shown that morethan 80% of the plants natural forests have already been destroyed(Hatch). Yes humankind is the cause of deforestation, however us humans are alsocapable of having a positive effect on this crisis. Tropical forests cover about10 per cent of the worlds dry land surface, mostly located in South Americaand Asia (Dudley 6). In the tropical forests of the world, deforestation isoccurring for agriculture and livestock pastures. The main cause is the unequaldistribution of land (Anderson). Temperate forests are found in land areas thatare warm enough and low enough to support trees but not so hot to be tropical.
They are found in North America, Europe and cooler parts of Australia (Dudley4). The problems in temperate forests are not so much the decrease in overallforest area, but the substantial change in the types of forests and theirecological diversity and stability. Commercial forestry is the main cause ofdeforestation in temperate forests. In very broad terms, the total area offorest in Europe, the USSR and North America is likely to decrease only slightlyin the medium future, but the proportion of forest existing as plantation isliable to rise sharply (Dudley 66). This however is going to lead to anincrease in conflict between the recreational and conservation interests andwill also tend to make forestry a more capital-intensive operation, thusproviding fewer jobs. Since so many people are dependent on the worldsforests, deforestation will have a social, economical and ecological effect onthe world. Most of these effects are negative ones. The loss of forestlands isconnected to desertification, which translates into there being fewer trees,thus decreasing the future forest workers employment. Heavy rainfall and highsunlight quickly damage the topsoil in tropical rainforest, causing them toregenerate slower and also providing insufficient farming grounds. When forestsare replanted there will also be a loss in quality. Also the medical treatments,cures and vaccines will never be discovered if there are no forests to discoverthem in. There may be a loss of future markets for ecotourism. The value of aforest is often higher when it is left standing than it could be worth when itis harvested (Dudley). Deforestation can cause the climate to change which couldcause and increase in floods and droughts. Global warming is a big factor in thedestruction of trees. Forests store large amounts of carbon that are releasedwhen trees are cut or burned. It is said that deforestation and the burning ofbiomass will be responsible for fifteen percent of the greenhouse effect between1990 and 2025 (FAO). Because of global warming ranges of tree species couldshift with respect to altitude and latitude (Humankind 2). Furthermore, thestress of such environmental change may make some species more susceptible tothe effects if insects, pollution, disease and fire (FAO). Also, areas of treesmay be lost and genetic diversity may decrease. The clearing of forestlandresults in increase of erosion and landslides. Landslide is a descent of a massof earth and rock down a mountain slope. Landslides may occur when water fromrain and melting snow sinks through the earth on top of a slope, seeps throughcracks and pore spaces in underlying sandstone, and encounters a layer ofslippery material, such as shale or clay, inclined toward the valley (Encarta).
Logging has directly and indirectly damaged spawning grounds, blocked riverchannels, raised water temperatures and caused water levels in streams tofluctuate dangerously. Therefore, the removal of tress can reduce the viabilityof fist stocks in their watershed and down streams environments. People destroyor degrade forests because, for them, the benefits seem to outweigh the costs.
Underlying causes include such issues as poverty, unequal land ownership,womens status, education and population. Immediate causes are often concernedwith a search for land and resources, including both commercial timber and fuelwood (Dudley). The government and industry play a huge role in the destructionor stability of forests. The government is the major aspect in controlling andmaintaining the forests. They have a huge say on what can and cant be done.
For example on March 14th 1996 the senate voted 54-42 against repealing asection of the 1995 rescissions law that allows the forest industry to salvageburned and downed trees from national forests (Shuster 1). They can restrictloggers by making laws but also are the link between compromising with theenvironmentalists. High unemployment and job loss is usually blamed on therestrictions set on foresters. However this is a myth. Most of this unemploymentis from worldwide economic change. The production of value-added forest productswould create more jobs and bring more wealth to these logging communities. Thewhole goal of this would be to reduce the pressure on the forests. If commercialforestry is to have a future, its methods need to become more ecologically soundand sustainable. The technique of salvage logging, removing dead and diseasedtrees from the forest, is good if the loggers dont take advantage of it andknow what trees to go after. Another affective method loggers use is known aswhole tree harvesting. This uses all of the wood from a tree. The branches andthe treetops are converted into wood chips. Whole tree logging provides morejobs for the people and more products to be sold for the economy. The governmentmust play a greater role in forest management to protect the environment andemployment. The government should ensure that the interests of all stakeholdersand as well as the long-term effects associated with forest areas are taken intoaccount during forest planning. Governments should stop defending the forestindustry from criticism and end the practice of subsidization. Propagandaoriginating from governments and corporations requires elimination if the publicis to be able to make the right choices. Probably only the action of concernedcitizens and consumers will compel government and industry to make changes inthe forests. Individuals can communicate their uncertainty about the future ofthe worlds forests to politicians, corporate executives and non-governmentalorganizations through personal communication in the form of letters, telephonecalls, faxes and e-mails. Deforestation is a serious problem, but humans canmake a difference. And individual as well as a business can practice greenconsumerism. They can make an effort to purchase the most ecologically sensitiveproducts. Recycled paper is always available, which can reduce the demand fortimber. One of the most important ways a person to have a positive effect is toreduce his or her consumption of forest and related products. An increase in theparticipation of reducing, reusing and recycling is necessary. Education is oneof the most effective ways to promote change in our environment. Society shouldeducate people of today to change their ways and teach the younger generationsto have respect for nature. The young people in our society should also betaught about the biological, social and economic values of forests.
Environmental conservation should be as important as math, physics, and historyin school. Workers should be taught to use technology to enhance forestecosystems instead of destroying them for reforestation. If humans would justsee themselves as a part of nature, they will respect it so much more and notjust exploit it for its resources. Humans bear the responsibility fordeforestation and the global ecological crisis. But humankind has the abilitiesand potential to change its ways and prevent the destruction of our worldsforests. If the forests are protected and regenerated they will benefit us allin many ways. Trees will help benefit the land from erosion. Endangered specieswill have better chances for survival. Human health will benefit from medicinalcompounds that are given a chance to be disvocered. Local economies will benefitfrom ecotourism and consumers worldwide will gain satisfaction from knowing thattheir wood products were harvested in a sustainable manner that left four out offive trees standing (Greenpeace). In order for this to occur humans are going tohave to undergo some degree of ideological change. Humans are going to have tolive more sustainable lives and become closer with nature. Once the crisis ofdeforestation has passed, humankind will enjoy a finer existence, and will lookforward to a bright future.