Ongoing Causes Behind Deforestation in the Modern World

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Ongoing Causes Behind Deforestation in the Modern World

Kimberly Byrne

Modern Tokyo Times


Forests are considered to be one of the most highly valued and important eco-systems around the globe, containing approximately 60-plus percent of the globe’s biodiversity. As well for a number of indigenous groups, the forests contain their livelihood as it provides not only spiritual and cultural value but medicinal and edible plants, shelter, bush meat, fruits, firewood, and a number of other goods. Forests also play an extremely fundamental role in climate regulation and preventing a large increase in the current greenhouse gas effect.

All over the world forests are beginning to disappear. Since the 1980s, deforestation rates have been increasing and have not slowed since the 1990s. The biological and ecological effects of deforestation are numerous. Deforestation causes reduced plant biomass, loss of valuable plant and animal species, reduced biological diversity, reduced ecosystem stability, species habitats disturbed and even extinction of certain species. Deforestation also increases soil erosion, increased desertification and aridity, and increase in the global greenhouse effect.

The most well-known direct causes of deforestation include urbanization, logging, converting forested lands for purposes of cattle-raising and agriculture, oil and mining exploitation, fire, and acid rain. According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization an estimated 90 percent of total deforestation is the result of unsustainable agricultural practices.

In recent years, globalization has been a cause of deforestation in many areas. Forests are converted for cattle-raising throughout Central America, production of soy beans in Brazil, as well as pulpwood in Indonesia. In Indonesia, for example, the continued growth of global paper consumption depends on the high availability of cheap pulp used in paper mills. Therefore, a number of forests in Indonesia are being cleared for eucalyptus plantations to supply the global market with cheap raw material for paper.

Other causes related to deforestation include policies and inequalities regarding land tenure, production and consumption patterns, and even the military. With the military, the forests’ inaccessibility poses a strategic problem and is often “solved” by opening up the forest. This causes animals in the area to have to move as well as indigenous people who call the forest their home.

With massive deforestation going on today and its horrifying consequences, the nest question should be how to stop deforestation from continuing and restore the damaged ecosystems. Obviously, the first step in inhibiting deforestation is education. It is vital to instill environmental responsibility in children at a young age, as well as remind adults who may need reminding of preventative deforestation measures.

The next step is to create a number of new conservation policies that will prohibit deforestation from taking place. The policies need not to be just written, but strictly enforced as well. For example, in 2001, former United States President Bill Clinton proposed a new policy providing $150 million in funding that would aid developing countries in protecting their forests. The last step would be to restore and regrow the forests to restore their original ecosystem. Though it would take many years, it is not an impossible task.

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