Deforestation is when forests are destroyed by cutting trees (logging) and not replanting them. The most common reason is to clear the land to make farms and ranches. They also cut trees for firewood and lumber and to make room for cities. Deforestation destroys the habitat of many animals, leading to their death. The loss is more severe in so called primary forests, which are forests that have yet been untouched by humans. Deforestation also releases sequestered carbon.
Restoring trees in deforested places is called reforesting.
Causes of deforestationEdit
Land has other uses besides growing trees. The biggest uses of land that was once forested are for farming and ranching. Some land is also used for roads and buildings, especially in urban area.As the population grows, people need to remove more trees. They also use the wood from the trees as lumber to make buildings and other things, or they burn the trees as firewood.
Forests have the following functions:
- regulation of the water cycle
- production of soil
- providing habitat for animals
- providing most of our oxygen
- maintain the oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2)
- balance in the atmosphere
- regulation of temperature
- prevention of soil erosion
- tree diseases
Trees are also important for carbon sequestration. When the trees burn or rot, the carbon in them returns to the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide. Since carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, deforestation causes global warming. Tropical deforestation is responsible for about 20% of world greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2020, a team of scientists studied worldwide deforestation efforts and found they were not working. They said the idea of everyone working toward the same goal had to change because different groups of people had different reasons for cutting down forests.
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- International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (May 25, 2020). "Why are we still failing to stop deforestation?" (Press release). Eurekalert.org. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
- Claude A. Garcia; Sini Savilaakso; René W. Verburg; Victoria Gutierrez; Sarah J. Wilson; Cornelia B. Krug; Marieke Sassen; Brian E. Robinson; Hannah Moersberger; Babak Naimi; Jeanine M. Rhemtulla; Hélène Dessard; Valéry Gond; Ce ́dric Vermeulen; Franck Trolliet; Johan Oszwald; Fabien Quétier; Stephan A. Pietsch; Jean-François Bastin; Anne Dray; Miguel B. Araújo; Jaboury Ghazoul; Patrick O. Waeber (May 22, 2020). "The Global Forest Transition as a Human Affair". One Earth. 2 (5): 417–428. doi:10.1016/j.oneear.2020.05.002. S2CID 219470763. Retrieved May 26, 2020.