The worlds forest covers over 4 billion hectares (31%) of the land surface, this is a drop down from the pre-industrial era of 5.9 billion hectares. According to UN data over 8.3 million hectares is lost on a yearly basis. Trees are fell primarily for commercial purposes such as making paper, timber, charcoal, furniture, floors and roofing while the land area cleared is been used for agriculture, animal grazing, settlement purposes and road construction. Naturally trees supply special services like controlling water runoff, protecting the soil, regulating climate, store nutrient, purifies air and provide habitat for a whole range of animal and plant species.
Human activities are important in our ecosystem; however, in recent times our activities have been identified to have an increasing negative impact on the ecosystem. All components of the ecosystem are linked through the nutrient and energy cycle whereby one organism has to depend on another for survival, however human dependence turn exploitation is more than the ecosystem can maintain. As human population and consumption is on the rise so those the need resources to meet their needs rise, this contributes largely to our ecological footprint. Some major effects on the ecosystem includes
- Air pollution, tress take in carbon dioxide and other air pollutants which are known to cause problems in the atmosphere, cutting down trees reduces the number of trees available to carry out this process thus reducing the global air quality
- Climate change, deforestation is considered to be one of the contributing factors to climate change, tress help to store over 300 billion tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, cutting down this tress lessens the amount of carbon dioxide stored, more so when trees die, they release the carbon dioxide which has been stored. The increase of Carbon dioxide being the most prevalent greenhouse gas in our atmosphere, whose presence is causing a depletion in the ozone layer leads to a change in precipitation seasons and intensity, temperature and solar radiation.
- Biodiversity loss, 70% of the world’s plants and animals’ lives in the forest, cutting down these trees leads to a displacement of animals to regions which might not support the lives of these animals and cause extinction in the long run. Plants which have high demand in the market are also being exploited at a very rapid rate also causing extinction in the ecosystem.
- Soil erosion, without trees which is the soils anchor, washing away of the top soil becomes more rapid. Soil erosion isn’t just bad on its own it further leads to effects such as silt entering into water bodies which contributes to the problem of poor water quality around such areas.
- Heat, with more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere more of the sun’s radiation is being reflected back to the earth and this is causing our average temperature to rise above normal. According to the guardian, overall global surface temperature has risen by 1C since the industrial revolution which has led to massive death rates worldwide. Absence of trees as cover increases of contact with sun’s heat aslo.
Some other effects are; Flooding and loss of carbon sink,
Now we are aware of our contribution to deforestation, what must we do to stop/reduce this effect? While we are looking up some new ways to improve the health of the ecosystem, there is need to place less economic value on trees and other natural resources. To ensure our everyday activities creates less impact on the ecosystem we need to recycle more and reduce our hunger for new resources. Afforestation, planting of new trees in areas where they have been lost and around our homes helps to purify our air by reducing the carbon dioxide.
Sources and further reading
- https://www.livescience.com/27692-deforestation .html