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The arc of deforestation

The Amazon Rain Forest is an area of the earth that every single living creature depends upon. At the highest point, we lost more than 27,000 square kilometers (km/2) of rainforest in a year. Realizing that we were storing up problems for ourselves in the long run we did actually manage to cut back to a lowest rate of 4,751 km/2 in 2012 and since then, the numbers have continued to sneak back up.

Effects of deforestation

Besides losing the natural resource which breaths in carbon dioxide, deforestation wreaks havoc on the local ecosystem. The canopy – the area at the very top of the trees – is thinned which allows the sun to reach the floor of the rainforest drying it out and causing a broader temperature variance than would normally happen.

There is an area in Amazonia where the damage has been so extensive that it is referred to as the arc of deforestation. Roughly 80% of the loss in Amazonia has taken place in this area named for its shape.

Re-forestation

In 2017 a project was started to restore a large area of the arc of deforestation to something of its former glory. The plan is to restore the equivalent of a football field, actually 30,000 of them by replanting native trees and also protecting them.

When we think of trees that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, tropical trees are the ones which are the most important. If we were to stop deforestation today the remaining trees could remove about 37% of existing carbon dioxide levels. That allows us to get within sight of the numbers agreed in the Paris accord.

Imagine then what reforesting 70,000 acres of tropical forest would do for the world as a whole and the arc itself in a fairly short period of time.

Muvuca

In the arc especially a new form of planting is taking place. In the past what has tended to happen is that saplings have been taken to the area and planted there. It is a process which is slow, labor intensive and when it fails, if a tree fails to take, the failure it total.

The Muvuca planting strategy is different. The aim is to seed large areas with a large volume of seeds from a range of species and let nature take its course. There is an element of natural selection here. The plants which compete the most successfully for the sunshine and nutrients are the ones which will survive. It is survival of the fittest in action.

A 2014 study showed that up to 90% of the seeds germinated. But even more successfully, the density of vegetation per hectare is fifteen times the sapling approach and after 10 the effect is multiplied many times over.

Another aspect of this project is that the very people who were part of the deforestation push from the need for agriculture are being paid to reforest. There are few success stories, but this is one I truly love.

It is a vicious circle and we have to stop it

This summer’s high temperatures and the major weather events should have persuaded everyone but the most hard-headed that global warming is happening. If that wasn’t bad enough, at the same time as we are pushing out gasses which heat our atmosphere, we’re working hard to diminish the natural resource that helps with the issue. I mean, how dumb can you be?

Here’s how it works

Plant and especially big ones called trees breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. It is a convenient arrangement, because we, along with all of the other animals, breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide.

This is known as a symbiotic relationship, where both sides get benefits from the other. We help them, they help us. It appeals at the level of logic, doesn’t it?

Cutting trees down doesn’t make sense

This mutually dependent relationship needs a critical mass to maintain it. There has to be plenty of trees to breathe out the oxygen we need. Reducing the number of trees on earth – each year we reduce the forests by an area about half the size of England – is going to have two long-term effects.

In the first place, it means less carbon dioxide will be taken out of the atmosphere which will increase global warming. Secondly, it means there’ll ultimately be less oxygen to breathe. This is not a good recipe.

Fire!

Sometimes fire sweeps through forests like it is currently doing in California. In the past this was a natural process – some trees were lost to fire – but it was part of the life and death cycle. The trees which were burnt provided minerals and richness back into the earth from which new trees grew.

Fires the size of the ones currently raging in California are well beyond that stage. The earth there is dry and the wood is parched. Fires spread rapidly and can’t be controlled. But the reason they are spreading so fast and furiously is there has been no rain, which is a symptom of global warming.

Slash and Burn

Although the amount of forest we lose to fire is scary, the amount we lose to agriculture is many times more frightening. Slash and burn is the name we give to the way in which some farmers are destroying the forest. Their need is for more arable land and so trees are chopped and then the wood is burned to ash and ploughed back into the earth.

The effects

There are too many effects of deforestation, and it doesn’t just affect humans. Most of the world’s wild animals are forest-dwellers. As we remove their habit, there’s less and less space for them to live. We put creatures together in a way they shouldn’t be. We also force them to the edge of extinction when they cannot adjust to an alternative habitat.

The only solution is to plant

The amount of planting is growing, but not by nearly enough.

Nature’s destruction and its effects

A recent study showed that nature’s destruction at the hands of humans is getting even worse, not just for nature but also for humanity. The losses of biodiversity are getting worse and if left unchecked they can seep into things that humans need.

Things like food, fresh water, and fish are all starting to suffer because of the exploitation of the environment, and the growing human population. More land is being cleared because of needs to grow food, create housing, and build other buildings that these growing towns will need but often at the cost of the plants and animals that live there.

The effects of a growing people

Prairies and wetlands are often turning into croplands and shrimp farms to feed a growing world, however, we lose the biodiversity and nature that is found there originally. In addition, our planet has developed natural ways to deal with massive weather events, and our expansion weakens them.

For example, forest fires often allow forests to start over by burning down the dead trees and enriching the soil with minerals, then a new generation of trees can rise up and become a new forest. However, if the forests are replaced with fields that grow food, fires can swiftly rage out of control and destroy everything in their path with no real benefit.

Climate change and our use of fossil fuels also cause problems for the temperature of the Earth, which raises the temperature of land and water, seriously impacting natural animal movement and migration, especially with fish. If the temperature of the water keeps rising, they can’t travel to lay their eggs which directly impacts both fishing in the present and future.

Poverty

People might not think that poverty and destruction of natural resources go together, but they do. Third world countries rely on logging, hunting, and gathering to survive their day to day lives. With deforestation and illegal chopping of trees becoming a problem, poverty is only increasing for the third world.

Plus, those same nations don’t have any methods to provide other jobs or even educate the populace on how to preserve biodiversity and be sustainable. There are other jobs that even the most unskilled laborer could do to make more money than chopping wood, such as collecting honey and selling that, or even sustainable hunting and gathering.

The poor are the ones who depend the most on the environment and are the most affected by climate change, and by teaching them how to manage their fisheries and wildlife, we can start the mutually beneficial track of lifting them from poverty while also protecting their way of life at the same time.

A long road ahead

The effects of natural resources being destroyed are far-reaching and impact everyone. It isn’t just the land and the climate that is being destroyed, but also the people who depend on the land and climate for survival. If these effects aren’t understood, countered, and stopped from spreading, they are going to get much worse.

The effects of deforestation

The planet doesn’t have as many trees as it used too, with heavy deforestation outpacing the rate at which new trees are grown. As the population and needs for wood objects and paper grow, the rate is only going to get higher as things keep growing.

Deforestation is going to happen in our world, it has too because otherwise, the trees would overgrow everything, and we do need clear land and all the resources that trees provide. However, the rate at which we are going through our natural resources is astounding.

So here are the causes, effects, and very real problems that the world is facing because of deforestation and the destruction of our natural resources.

What people cut down trees for?

It’s not all just for wood, but also for agriculture as farmers use slash and burn techniques to cut down trees and then burn them. When animals move into the area, they can overgraze on the grasses and any young trees that also can start to grow.

In addition, logging companies cut down trees for shipment to mills, and while they are environmentally regulated some of them are illegal. These illegal companies also go into unregulated forests and cut down trees, damaging the local ecosystem. In addition, they also cut down more trees to make roads and bridges to make it easier to get to those forests.

Effects of deforestation

The effects on the environment are large and negative, including a loss of habitat for the animals and plants that live there. Many of these species haven’t even been discovered yet, and some of them even have medicinal or other properties that could prove beneficial to the world at large. Before they can be found, however, they are either driven away from their homes or wiped out by deforestation.

Climate change is also an effect, with the wet forest soil and environment drying out once the sun hits them full force, unable to retain the water. With the forest canopy being destroyed, the temperature can also be a major problem and the temperature changes can cause further harm to the local ecosystem.

Without trees to absorb greenhouse gasses, global warming also goes up, causing more suffering to all ecosystems, not just the forests. In addition, less oxygen is produced and the air counties to get thinner and more polluted.

Replanting a greener world

The only solution to deforestation is to plant more trees, but with the amount of time it takes one sapling to grow into a fully mature tree, other solutions are in order. They include limiting clear cutting to keep the local ecosystem intact, as well as cracking down on illegal operations that disregard the environmental rules.

Deforestation is a massive problem for the world, and the only solution is to plant more trees and wait while also working on ways to reduce tree and wood consumption. Without large tracts of forests to keep our planet safe, our Earth could look a lot different in the future.