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Deforestation as Real Problem for Humankind in The 21st Century

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In this paper, I will show that deforestation, as well as air pollution, global warming, and climate change are the issues with the greatest potential impact for humankind in the 21st century and beyond. Deforestation is a huge concern in every nation across the globe. Since forest destruction, in fact, leads to the ecosystem’s degrading, because of affecting the most significant way of matter and energy motion – food chains and webs, the potential consequences of this nature usage are far away from just harmfully affecting the environment.

First, the definition of the term ‘deforestation’ is the cutting down of trees in a large area or the destruction of forests by people. Moreover, due to the destruction of forest habitat, flora and fauna enormously suffer, which leads to irreversible deterioration of biodiversity. Secondly, the reason for an ecosystem ruining, climate change and biodiversity loss is a system vulnerability to changing stability in habitual, complicated and, in normal cases, a self-regulated food web. Food web is a network of food chains or feeding relationships by which energy and nutrients are passed on from one species of living organisms to another. Forest plants are producers; therefore, the rapid disappearance of a huge part of their biomass is the reason for the decrease in biomass of all the following positions of the trophic chain.

Evidently, forests still cover about 30 percent of the terrestrial biosphere area, but they are disappearing at a frightening rate. Between 1990 and 2016, the planet lost 502,000 square miles (1.3 million square kilometers) of the forest, according to the World Bank — an area larger than South Africa. The global number of trees is approximately 3.04 trillion, an order of magnitude higher than the previous estimate. Of these trees, approximately 1.30 trillion exist in tropical and subtropical forests, with 0.74 trillion in boreal regions and 0.66 trillion in temperate regions. Over 15 billion trees are cut down each year, and the global number of trees has fallen by approximately 46% since the start of human civilization. What is more, protecting tropical tree covers is crucial for achieving the climate goals of the Paris Agreement. Annual gross carbon dioxide emissions from forest loss in tropical countries averaged 4.8 gigatons per year between 2015 and 2017. In other words, tropical tree cover loss is now causing more emissions every year than 85 million cars would over their entire lifetime.

Beyond the role of trees in the total carbon amount, forests also have an important purpose in regulating climate at a local level by transpiring water and shading the terrain. Every 100 liters of water a tree transpires gives the equivalent of working two central air conditioning units for a day. On the other hand, deforestation can increase the local air temperature in the tropics and temperate zones by 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit and increase daily temperature variation by almost 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit in the tropics and 5.13 degrees Fahrenheit in the temperate zone.

In addition, deforestation is one of the most crucial causes of habitat loss. Human alteration of habitat is the greatest menace to biodiversity throughout the biosphere. Global climate change, as well as agriculture, urban development, forestry, mining, and environment pollution is already altering habitats today and will have an even larger effect later this century. According to the IUCN, destruction of habitat is a contributing cause for 73% of the species that have become extinct, endangered, vulnerable, or rare in the last few hundred years. Approximately 98% of the tropical dry forests of Central America and Mexico have been cut down, leaving relatively small, isolated patches of forest. Habitat fragmentation often drives to species loss because the smaller populations in habitat fragments have a higher risk of extinction.

Humanity has been using natural resources since the birth of humanity, and for the time being, we still cannot entirely refuse from this. Much deforestation is illegal, but almost all of it is driven by greed. Even as corporate responsibilities are growing – to stop felling Amazon’s critical rainforests – governments and illegal actors continue to contribute to the destruction. Tropical tree loss has doubled since 2004. People need a lot of wood raw materials for construction, paper and goods production, as well as new land for agriculture. Farming, grazing of livestock, mining, and drilling consolidated more than half of all deforestation. Forestry practices, wildfires, and urbanization account for the rest.

In Malaysia and Indonesia, forests are cut down to produce palm oil, which can be found in everything from shampoo to saltines. In the Amazon, stock raising and farms   especially soy plantations  are key culprits. The increasing quantity of fires in Amazon is the effect of illegal forest clearing to perform land for farming. Fires are set intentionally and spread quickly and easily in the dry season. The hunger for new land for cattle farming has been the main hack of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon since the 1970s. These farmers, which also are the opponents, in this case, may not need to free new land to graze cattle. Logging operations, which provide the world’s wood and paper products, also fell innumerable trees each year, in legal and illegal ways. However, not all deforestation is deliberate. Some are caused by a combination of anthropological and natural factors like wildfires and overgrazing, which may inhibit the growth of young trees.

Opponents – the entire population, civil and management organizations that work to limit and prevent deforestation, try to reduce and smooth out the negative impact that has already taken place. In particular, New Jersey state entities are required to replant trees when trees are removed during development projects involving one-half acre or more in order to ‘No Net Loss’ reforestation plan. By doing this, we are making efforts to keep the population size at the appropriate level.

I firmly believe that actions to prevent the negative consequences of deforestation, limit the use of forestland and regulate tightly the illegal forest use should be made. Deforestation affects every state and every town: In New Jersey, for example, Atlantic white cedar trees have been cut down from 140,000 acres to under 20,000. Destroying the forests will end a major source of carbon absorption, accelerating the trapping of carbon and other gases, which in turn elevates temperatures. Humans’ brusque intervention to the ecosystems also ruins food chains and webs, which leads to a shortage of biodiversity and even species extinction. According to the ecological pyramid rule, where each subsequent link receives 10% of the mass and energy of the previous one, deforestation, by severe disrupting established food webs, becomes the cause of the ecosystem collapse. Furthermore, deforestation-driven destruction of the food cycle is linked to emerging tropical infectious diseases. The impacts of deforestation and farming on potential aquatic infectious agent hosts have been described for the most part for established vector-transmitted diseases, notably malaria. In most cases, deforestation leads to fragmentation of the habitat.

In most cases, deforestation leads to fragmentation of the habitat. The impact of fragmentation on the structure of communities has been explored since 1979 in the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project. As a result of the research, populations of species adapted to forest interiors show the greatest deteriorations when patches of forestry surface are the smallest, inferring that landscapes dominated by small fragments will support fewer species. All things concerned, primary forests continue to be lost rapidly, with alarming consequences for biodiversity, climate change, and the rights and livelihoods of local communities. Deforestation affects all processes in the ecosystem, including matter and energy exchange and relationships between species populations, causing misbalanced and huge changes, from a sharp decrease in the number of individuals of species to an increase in pathogens.

The numbers are inexorable, but many conservationists see grounds for hope. A campaign is underway to conserve existing forest ecosystems and repair lost tree cover. Organizations and activists are acting to oppose illegal mining and logging. In Tanzania, the inhabitants have planted more than 2 million trees striving to repair the previous loss. To preserve ecosystems and their inhabitants in areas with fragmented forest cover the presence of a corridor, a narrow strip or series of small clumps of habitat connecting otherwise isolated patches can be vital for conserving biodiversity. As for consumers, it makes sense to explore the products you buy, looking for sustainably produced sources. Nonprofit groups such as the Forest Stewardship Council and the Rainforest Alliance certify products they consider sustainable, while the World Wildlife Fund has a palm oil scorecard for consumer brands. The following few years represent a unique possibility to preserve the resilience, biodiversity, and ecosystem services of forests all over the world.

References

  1. https://dictionary.cambridge.org, [Online].
  2. https://www.wikipedia.org, [Online].
  3. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/deforestation/,[Online].
  4. T.W. Crowther, H. B. Glick, K. R. Covey, C. Bettigole, D. S. Maynard, S. M. Thomas, J. R. Smith, G. Hintler, M. C. Duguid, G. Amatulli et.al., ‘ Mapping tree density at a global scale.’Nature, no. 525, p. 201–205, 2015.
  5. D. Gibbs N. Harris and F. Seymour, ‘By the Numbers: The Value of Tropical Forests in the Climate Change Equation’ 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.wri.org/blog/2018/10/numbers-value-tropical-forests-climate-change-equation.
  6. L. A. Urry, M. L. Cain, S. A. Wasserman, P. V. Minorsky, J. B. Reece, N. A. Campbell, Campbell Biology 11th Edition, New York: Pearson, 2017.
  7. http://theconversation.com/the-amazon-is-on-fire-here-are-5-things-you-need-to-know-122326,[Online].
  8. ‘State Of New Jersey. Department of Environmental Protection.,’ 2017. [Online]. Available: https://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/forest/community/No_Net_Loss.htm.
  9. https://www.nj.com/opinion/2019/08/we-need-to-speak-for-the-trees-global-deforestation-is-an-environmental-crisis.html, [Online].
  10. A. L. Morris, J.-F. Guégan, D. Andreou, L. Marsollier, K. Carolan, M. Croller, D. Sanhueza, R. E. Gozlan, ‘Deforestation-driven food-web collapse linked to emerging tropical infectious disease, Mycobacterium ulcerans,’ Science, no. 12, 2016.
  11. A. Y. Vittor, W. Pan, R. H. Gilman, J. Tielsch, G. Glass, T. Shields, W. Sánchez-Lozano, V. V. Pinedo, E. Salas-Cobos, S. Flores, J. A. Patz, ‘Linking deforestation to malaria in the Amazon: Characterization of the breeding habitat of the principal malaria vector, Anopheles darlingi,’ Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg., no. 81, pp. 5-12, 2009.

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