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Eric Benoit


Deforestation and its Effects on the World

What is deforestation? Deforestation is the permanent destruction of forests in order to

make the land available for other uses. According to Live there is an estimated 18
million acres of forest, are lost each year. (Bradford, 2015) Deforestation occurs throughout the
world but its the tropical rainforests that are targeted the most. A United Nations Environment
Program known as GRID Arendal claims that some of the countries with significant
deforestation include Brazil, Indonesia, Thailand and the Democratic Republic of Cong along
with other parts of Africa and Eastern Europe. The country with the most deforestation is
Indonesia. The University of Maryland and World Resource Institute declares that since the last
century Indonesia has lost at least 15.79 million hectares of forest land.(Margono, 2014)
Tropical rainforests are not the only forests that are impacted by deforestation and
although deforestation has increased rapidly in the past 50 years, it has been practiced throughout
history. For example, ninety percent of the continental United States indigenous forest has been
removed since 1600. The World Resources Institute estimates that most of the worlds remaining
indigenous forest is located in Canada, Alaska, Russia and the Northwestern Amazon basin.
Why does deforestation take place? The World Wildlife Federation reports that only half
of the trees illegally removed from forests are used as fuel. Some other reasons include making
more land available for housing and urbanization, harvesting timber to create commercial items

such as paper, furniture and homes. Palm trees are highly sought after for the oil that comes from
the trees and oftentimes land may cleared for cattle ranching.(Cesario, 2015)
There are many different ways deforestation takes place. Some of these ways are more
controversial than others. The two main ways is by burning and clear cutting. Clear cutting is
when large sections of land are completely stripped of their trees by cutting them down all at
once. Clear cutting has been described by forestry experts with the Natural Resources Defense
Council as an ecological trauma that compares to nothing else in nature other than a volcanic
eruption. Burning of forests is done in two different methods. One is a quick burn and the other
is known as a slash and burn technique. Slash and burn involves cutting down trees and burning
them and growing crops on the land. Ashes from the burned trees provide nourishment for new
plants. (Bradford, 2015)
How does deforestation affect us globally? Michael Daley, associate professor of
environmental science at Lasell College in Newton, Massachusetts, claims the No. 1 problem
caused by deforestation is the impact on the global carbon cycle. Daley informs us that gas
molecules that absorb thermal infrared radiation are called greenhouse gases. If greenhouse gases
are in large enough quantity, they can force climate change and this is why deforestation is
considered to be one of the major contributing factors to global climate change. (Bradford, 2015)
Some other affects of deforestation include messing up complex ecosystems that have an
effect on every species living on this planet. These include:

Loss of species: Seventy percent of the worlds plants and animals live in forests
and are losing their habitats to deforestation, according to National Geographic.

Loss of habitat can lead to species extinction. It also has negative consequences
for medicinal research and local populations who rely on the animals and plants
in the forests for hunting and medicine.

Water cycle: Trees are important to the water cycle. They absorb rain fall and
produce water vapor that is released into the atmosphere. Trees also lessen the
pollution in water, according to the North Carolina State University, by stopping
polluted runoff. In the Amazon, more than half the water in the ecosystem is held
within the plants, according to the National Geographic Society.

Soil erosion: Tree roots anchor the soil. Without trees, the soil is free to wash or
blow away, which can lead to vegetation growth problems. The World Wildlife
Federation states that scientists estimate that a third of the worlds arable land has
been lost to deforestation since 1960. After a clear cutting, cash crops like coffee,
soy and palm oil are planted. Planting these types of trees can cause further soil
erosion because their roots cannot hold onto the soil. "The situation in Haiti
compared to the Dominican Republic is a great example of the important role
forests play in the water cycle," Daley said. Both countries share the same island,
but Haiti has much less forest cover than the Dominican Republic. As a result,
Haiti has endured more extreme soil erosion, flooding and landslide issues.

Life quality: Soil erosion can also lead to silt entering the lakes, streams and
other water sources. This can decrease local water quality and contribute to poor
health in populations in the area.


Bradford, A. (2015, March 4). Live Science. Retrieved April 1, 2016, from
Cesario, K. (2015). Threats of Deforestation. Retrieved April 4, 2016, from
Margono, B. A. (2014, July 17). Indonesia now country with world`s highest deforestation rate.
Retrieved April 1, 2016, from