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Planet in Crisis: Deforestation 101

Deforestation is one of the greatest crises of our planet.

Do you ever just want to wander around the forest and breathe in the fresh air and natural feeling it gives? Forests serve as a mini getaway from all problems of modern life. They also provide most resources in our life. Here we find materials for our houses, food, clothing, and other necessities.

Approximately one-third of Earth’s resources come from forests. Civilizations and tribes, especially indigenous peoples, call them home since time immemorial.

The current crisis that the Earth experiences right now is interlinked with the trees in our forests. It is responsible for filtering the air that we breathe in. Hence, if the Earth is a human, forests are its lungs. Without our lungs, it would be difficult for us to survive. Thus, the forests are key to our survival.

Forest, Mist, Nature, Trees, Mystic

Lindsey Allen, Executive Director of the Rainforest Alliance said, “Half of the world’s forests have already disappeared, and only 20% of what remains is intact.” We should worry about the rage of climate change even with about half of the world’s forests lost. What more if the remaining half will also fade into inexistence? It seems horrible to imagine.

With that, we must understand the different factors why forests are lost and how we can save them and all life on Earth.

What is deforestation?

Deforestation refers to the decrease of forest areas. Agricultural lands, mining areas, urbanization, and others are mainly the culprits. By logging off trees and destroying healthy lands, deforestation slowly occurs.

Deforestation, Forest, Wood, Cut

Human activities greatly contribute to this crisis. As previously mentioned, we get most of our resources from the forests. But the more we take from the forest, the more we destroy it.

In schools, our teachers would always advise us to plant more trees to make up for the lost ones. Or else, more floods will occur and more calamities will hit Earth and destroy our livelihood. But did we ever listen? Doubtful. Because if we did, we would not be in this crisis in the first place.

Of course, individuals barely have a direct role in deforestation. Still, we need to examine the different human activities and industries that destroy forests. Because these selfsame industries enable the consumerist lifestyle of humans.

Causes of Deforestation

Illegal loggings

Chainsaw, Forestry, Tree, Felling, Wood

Deforestation happens when trees are cut down and destroyed. We know from childhood that that cutting trees will lead to more floods. Partly true because without it, there will no longer be responsible for absorbing these floods. Moreover, the air would be less breathable as its filter is slowly decreasing.

It only takes a second to remove a plant’s root and about an hour to log off trees. But it takes years for a single tree to grow. So deforestation takes away years’ worth of work in just a few hours.

Humans regularly cut down trees for resources. But governments regulate this industry to preserve the forest for future generations. But the danger is when we forget to replace the things we removed. Every year, we cut down 3.5 to 7 billion trees. Worse, if we are not careful about our replanting efforts, we destroy the natural species in the areas.

Illegal logging has been a longtime issue that persists around the world. It does not only destroy the forest itself, but also the ecosystem. Wildlife becomes extinct from the loss of habitat and resources. It disrupts the natural cycles, including the food chain.

Mining

Pit, Mine, Hole, Open, Quarry, Mining

Although there are already legal mining, where companies are given permits to operate in certain places, there are still hard-headed companies who would illegally mine on particular places. Mining, in general, destroys forests. But most believe that this industry is inevitable as it extracts the minerals and metals that we use in producing modern necessities.

According to the World Wide Fund For Nature, “The impact of mining on tropical forests is growing due to rising demand and high mineral prices. “ So how does this contribute to deforestation?

Mining projects are accompanied by major infrastructures and machines to mine the ground. To extract in-demand minerals such as aluminum and copper, such massive machines will have to log off trees and dig the ground forcefully. They also result in dangerous chemical leaks which destroy the lands and waters around the mining area. So it would make reforestation difficult.

Agriculture

Cows, Cattle, Farm, Sky, Clouds, Pasture

Agriculture is a primary factor in deforestation. 40% of forest loss comes from commercial and industrial agriculture– farming livestock and crops. It destroys animal habitats, alters biodiversity, and increases the emission of greenhouse gases.

The higher the demand, the higher the supply. To maintain that, agriculture must expand. And guess what happens? You guessed it right! More animal habitats are destroyed just for the sake of expansion. And to feed the growing population.

And sorry, organic farming won’t count it. Most industrial organic farms still cut down forests to make them farmland. And several vegan crops such as soy also affect forest health. In tropical areas where soy is grown, soy farmers clear rainforests and vast indigenous lands. Additionally, soy and other such crops are monocultures. Such plantations trigger loss of biodiversity.

Urbanization

City, Big, Construction, Architecture

As the human population grows exponentially, urbanization also increases. More roads to build, more transportation to sustain, more energy transformation, and whatnot. So we need to extract more resources out of forests, leading to more destruction, unfortunately.

With increasing population, it is expected that cities would expand to accommodate the size of the population eventually. Here it will destroy boundaries between forests and the city.

Climate Change

Climate Change, Drought, Climate, Dry

Weather events such as forest fires, drought, and storm surge also cause deforestation. The increase of these phenomena does not only destroy hectares of forests during the actual happenings but also eventually leaves horrible aftermath. It leaves the land unhealthy and less likely to be planted mainly because of pests and diseases. Plus, there are invasive species that destroyed forests in the long run.

Why is deforestation slowly becoming a crisis?

Cercopithecus, Monkey

Deforestation is a crisis that destroys natural resources from which we rely most on our livelihood. It has become a threat to biodiversity. Animals are dying and losing their homes. These animals breed in the forests for a reason. Forcing them to move out and destroy their homes would alter their species. It endangers the planetary ecosystems, the natural balance of life in general.

Deforestation’s highest rate was back in 2004 in the Brazilian Amazon. As of 2020, the deforestation rate is 182% higher than the established target of 3, 925 square kilometers. It is equivalent to 650 million carbon emissions. Moreover, the rise of deforestation intensified forest fires. 

Fire, Forest Fire, Children, Fear

The WWF stresses that “Forests are more than just a collection of trees and other plants – they are integrated ecosystems and home to some of the most diverse life on Earth.” Thus, deforestation puts an imbalance with the ecosystem once it has been altered. The breeding of animals may no longer be as healthy compared to when they were in their previous environment.

Moreover, we also rely upon most of our water cycles from here, including the filtering of the air. Forests mitigate climate change as they act like carbon absorbers. So deforestation puts wildlife and climate to its grave conditions. 

Despite the rise of the COVID19 Pandemic, Brazil and other countries are currently trying their hardest to not compromise in taking action towards deforestation. With the rise of deforestation, it has become a crisis target by politicians in attempts to solve the crisis.

Solutions

So how do we deal with the crisis of deforestation? The solutions should come at a societal and individual level.

  1. Plant more trees

One of the basic responses that we can provide in putting a halt to deforestation is planting trees. It has always been emphasized to us by our teachers and perhaps elders the importance of trees. Planting trees can really help avoid deforestation. The more trees we plant, the more we enjoy the freshness of nature and admire the beauty of a green environment.

  1. Recycle products

Whenever we purchase items from the store, before planning to throw them away after using them, we have to check first if these products are recyclables. Recycling products do not only help us save money but also ensures the good condition of our natural resources. Plus, it engages creativity amongst our children.

  1. Raise awareness amongst your community

Being passive and stagnant with the current events in our community should not be tolerated. At some point in our lives, we have to step up and take the initiative to create responses and actualize them. A small community can already elicit changes. Let not your initiative be kept just for yourself. Share it with others and see how little change can grow.

  1. Support companies which campaigns for sustainable growth and paperless community

Apart from raising awareness within your community, do also support local campaigns from different companies which are aiming for the same goal as you are. The more people we get to involve with, the more chances of seeing changes. With that, we must go beyond our comfort zone to see the rest of the world’s crisis.

  1. Help protect rainforests and wildlife

Solving the crisis of deforestation cannot only be solved with awareness campaigns and the planting of trees. It also requires protection within its habitats that are greatly affected by this problem. It is significant to know that our rainforests and wildlife require protection. Do not be a perpetrator. Rather, be a protector.

  1. Begin at home by going paperless

And here we are thinking that papers are good. Well, not necessarily. Everything has its pros and cons and papers are not an exception. As much as possible, in connection with the second solution, utilize stuff that is recyclables and washable to maintain sustainability.

  1. Buy only what you need

They live only with your means and I say yes to that. One of the reasons why we contribute so much to the global crisis is because of the things that we purchase. Just an advice, please only buy what you need. If you don’t need it, then don’t buy it. Besides, it helps you save money and save Earth.

  1. Avoid doing activities which well help emit green house gases as much as possible.

We are already adults. With that, let us be responsible for what we do. We have to always make sure that what we do resonates with the effect our neighborhood may receive in return. More so, we and families are not an exception to such.

Conclusion

I am certain that this is not the first time you will hear encouragements and motivations to withdraw from activities that might harm our environment and everyone we care about. Nonetheless, with the bountiful global issues the world is facing in the current situation, it is significant to constantly remind the public to always be mindful and sensitive with such actions that we make, which might give a grave impact not only on our surroundings but also to ourselves.

Deforestation is not the only crisis we must look into. There’s pollution in the air, water, and land. Volatile weather phenomena. And many more. As much as possible, we need to look at our environment in a holistic view. Explore the deeper problems and unleash our aid to peacefully and harmoniously live in this world. We need to commit to protecting our natural resources while living meaningfully.

Go zero waste. From your vote to your waste management practices. Let every part of your life slowly be in tune with nature.

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