Laurance (1999) stated that “Tropical forests do far more than sustain biodiversity; they are homes to indigenous peoples, pharmacopeias of natural products, and provide vital ecosystem services, such as flood amelioration and soil conservation” (p. 109). This shows that forest is very important to us but deforestation is causing all the forest to be cleared. What is deforestation? Deforestation is the act of cutting down all the trees in a particular area. Deforestation is carried out for some reasons. These reasons could be categorized into legal deforestation and illegal deforestation. Tropical forest takes up about six percent of the earth and a lot of problems could occur when all the trees are cut down. To this day, people are still debating on whether deforestation is appropriate or not. What are the causes and effects of deforestation?
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What is happening to the tropical rainforest now? We have always read news about Indonesia and the occurrence of forest burning almost every year. Why are they doing it? It had been reported that they burn the forests so that they will have a better land to plant palm oil. It acts as a fertilizer to the land because their plants died and converted into fertilizer. Even thought they did it to fertilize the land but it brought harm to the people who live around the country. Air pollution often happens in Malaysia because hazes are formed due to forest burning in Indonesia. Haze is an atmospheric phenomenon that causes the air around it to be misty and blurry. It brings harm to the people that inhale it. Therefore, the rate of people receiving treatment for illnesses caused by inhalation of haze increases every year.
This shows that deforestation is causing a lot of effects on mankind and it is often shown on advertisement and newspaper; however, it seems that people are still not aware of the effects of deforestation. This research paper is discusses about the causes and effects of deforestation around the world. Many people are more aware of the effects than the causes of deforestation. This research paper is going to talk about the causes and effects of deforestation. Besides discussing the causes and effects of deforestation, this paper also argues about what can be done to save the forest too.
Causes of deforestation
One of the most common causes of deforestation is clearing out the forest to pay back the foreign debt of that particular country (Culas, 2006). Some country has a huge sum of foreign debt and they don’t the capability to clear their debt; thus they clear out the forests so that the land they acquire later could be used for crop production. By planting crops that could be exported to another country, they could earn a lot and repay back their debt. This is why most countries choose to clear forests and focus on agricultural purposes. Countries that do not owe other countries any debt are less likely to take up deforestation or will have a lower rate of deforestation. Therefore, countries that are in a heavy debt should look for alternative ways that could gain them a better income instead of clearing up the forests. As I have mentioned earlier, tropical forests only takes up about 6 percent of the whole earth. If these countries continue to clear up the forests without thinking of the consequences, the amount of forests left on the surface of the earth would seriously decline.
Another cause of deforestation is the increasing demand of land. Due to the increase of human population, certain countries are also experiencing an increase in the demand for houses. This leads to developers seeking more land to build houses on. Hence, developers clear up forests after forests so that the land they acquire could be used to build houses. Through the development of houses on forest land, they can sustain the population in that country. We don’t have to look at other country. We just need to take a look at our own country, Malaysia. Forests in Setapak area were cleared up to build condominiums. Malaysia has the population of over millions and the demand for houses is very high. They choose to clear up the forests so that there would be more land to build apartments, condominiums, terrace houses and other housing structures. This shows that deforestation is the first option when it comes to fulfilling the demand for land. Besides fulfilling the demand of houses, the demand of oil has also leads to deforestation. Oil is widely used everywhere in the world now. When the demand for oil increases, lands are also needed for oil plantation. The absence of land made oil plantation a difficult task; hence, deforestation becomes the option again to gain lands. Trees were chopped down and the land is then used to plant oil palm so the demand for palm oil could be met.
Besides meeting the demand of land, the weakness shown in the government’s policies is also one of the causes for deforestation (Laurance, 1999). Ever since we were kids, we were always taught that there are rules when it comes to cutting down trees. Despite that, many people continue to violate the rules and continue to do illegal logging. Why is it that people constantly neglect the boundaries set up by the government and commit illegal loggings? This is because of the government’s weak policies. Rules and boundaries were set by the government but there were no enforcement. Law enforcers are not strict and often neglect their duty when it comes to punishing individuals for violating the rules. For example, the law enforcers just releases those who have violated the laws despite catching them and witnessing them doing illegal logging. This does not help reduce deforestation but rather makes the matter worse. People will think that it is fine to do illegal logging since the law enforcers, such as police officers, do not arrest those who violated the rules in spite of their crime. Such acts by those who work for the government will only promote further deforestation instead of stopping them. Soon, the trees in the country will gradually disappear.
The effects of deforestation
What are the effects of deforestation? One of the effects of deforestation includes affecting the habitat of the indigenous people. When deforestation happens, it gravely affects the indigenous people because deforestation contributes to death, illness, poorness, and culturl shock (Mitten, 1997). The indigenous people who live in forests seek their food from the forests and deforestation terminates their only means to acquire food. In addition, logging activities have become an easy way to earn money. Therefore, all the companies build their factory near the rivers. The waste products that were made while processing forest products would be dumped into the river; thus, polluting it. Indigenous people drink water from the river. As a result, they will get sick because of the dirty water caused by the factories. It can even cause deaths if it gets too serious. Besides that, the culture of the indigenous people that has been passed down from generations to generations will soon vanish when the indigenous people slowly decreases due to death. Cultural shock will occur and the history of the indigenous people will soon be forgotten.
Besides harming the indigenous people, deforestation harms the wildlife too (Bonaudo, Pendu, Faure, & Quanz, 2005). This is because around 80 to 90 percent of animal species live in the tropical rainforest. Imagine if all the trees were cut down, what will happen to the animal? It is without a doubt that the animals will lose their natural habitat and they will become extinct. Animals, such as pandas, refuse to breed when they are not in their own natural habitat. Therefore, the population if panda keeps decreasing as time goes by because their natural habitat is being destroyed due to deforestation. When deforestation happens, the animals lose their natural habitats and also their protective shield. This causes the animals to have some difficulty adapting to their new environment and as a result, the animals would refuse to breed. The extinction of these animals is guaranteed if they refuse to breed due to the destruction of their natural habitat. Our future generation will have to look at pictures or visit the museums in order to the animal instead of just looking at the animals in real life. Deforestation will soon cause the future generation to lose touch with the animals that exist now and they will only know them through knowledge passed down by their parents or by visiting a museum.
Another effect of deforestation is climate change. Bala, Caldeira, Wickett, Phillips, Lobell, Delire, & Mirin, (2006) stated that “deforestation affects the global climate by releasing the carbon stored in the living plants and soils as well as by altering the physical properties of the planetary surface” (p. 6550). Trees take in carbon dioxide that is released by human through respiration. Trees stored carbon dioxide to produce their own food through photosynthesis process. When the trees are all cut down, there will not be any more trees to absorb the carbon dioxide that is released by humans. Carbon dioxide will then be trapped at the atmosphere and temperature will increase. As the carbon dioxide in the air increases severely, so does the temperature. This will results in the phenomena known as global warming. When global warming happens, ice in the North Pole and South Pole will melt. This will result in an increase of sea level. The increase in the sea level will flood countries that are geographically situated in a lower sea level and these countries will disappear from the surface of the earth. Soon, all the land will be flooded and the countries will disappear one by one.
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What can be done?
Deforestation has caused a lot of harm to the mankind. There are a number of actions that could be taken to reduce deforestation. For example, instead of cutting down trees to acquire new land, we can perform land reclamation. Land reclamation involves the creation of new lands from oceans or riverbeds. Besides that, government should enforce the rules instead of handling the matters leniently. The people who violate the rules should be fined or prosecuted. This serves as a warning to others so that they will stop their illegal logging and this could help save and preserves the trees around us. Every country should preserve their forests and plant more trees so that the biodiversity could be maintained.
All in all, deforestation has caused a lot of devastating effects not only to the people but also the animals. Before understanding the effects, we need to find the roots of why deforestation happens first. As I have stated earlier, the causes of deforestation are the large sum of foreign debt, the increasing demand for land, and the weakness in the government’s policies. Deforestation happens because the trees were cut down for crop production. With the production, they could repay back the debt. Besides that, the demand for land gradually increases as time goes by. This is because the increase in popularity has increased the demand of land to build houses. Moreover, the weaknesses in the policies promote deforestation instead of curbing them. This occurs because the government did not enforce the rules that were set and they did not take illegal deforestation seriously.
Deforestation has done a lot of harm to the people and also to the wildlife. The most common effect is causing harm to indigenous people. Indigenous people live in forests and everything they do inside the forest is part of their culture. Deforestation causes the indigenous people will lose their home as well as their source for food. Deforestation will cause their culture to extinct sooner or later. The most precious aspect in a country is its original culture. If the indigenous people are extinct, there will be no more culture for that particular country. Besides harming the indigenous people, deforestation harms wildlife too. Most of the animal species live in the tropical forest. Not only does it act as a natural habitat for the animals, forests also act as a protective shield for the animals. When deforestation occurs, they lose their natural habitat and protective shield. Soon, they will be on the edge of extinction. When this happen, it will cause a loss in biodiversity and our future generation will have to know the animals through pictures. Another effect of deforestation is climate change. Trees act as storages for carbon dioxide that are released by humans through respiration. Trees absorb carbon dioxide for their photosynthesis process. If the trees were cut down, all the carbon dioxide will be released to the atmosphere and this will cause the temperature to increase. An increase in the temperature will result in global warming and global warming; in turn, melts the ice in the North and South Pole. This results in an increase of sea level. Therefore, lands that are positioned in a lower sea level will soon be flooded and disappear from the surface of the earth.
After understanding the causes and effects, what can be done to curb deforestation? Every government should find another alternative way to boost their economy and repay back the foreign debt. Instead of cutting down the trees for crop production, they can try boosting the economy through the tourism section. This way, they can save the forest and gain profits at the same thing. Besides cutting down trees for more land, land reclamation can be taken to acquire more land. These methods are able to fulfill the demands for land as well as preserve the forest at the same time. Governments should also enforce the rules that were set for logging activities. People who violate the rules by carrying out the illegal logging act musr be fined or prosecuted. This acts as a warning to others so that they do not dare to do it again. Besides that, government could come out with other ways of punishing the people that violates the rules. As an overall, they must enforce the laws and regulations on environmental issues.
I chose to do this research on deforestation because I have read a lot of news on how deforestation do us harm and yet no one has done anything to stop it. I hope that this research paper could help people to do understand more on the causes and effects of deforestation. Besides that, I also hope this research will help curb deforestation and save the trees from being logged. By doing so, the biodiversity of the earth could be maintained and no harm would befall on humans. If deforestation continues to happen, there will be no more trees in the future. This will result in higher temperature, loss of biodiversity and more. Therefore I hope everybody will do his or her part in preserving and protecting the forest so that there is a better future for our next generation.
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