Deforestation is the removal of a forest or a group of trees by cutting or burning, where the land becomes a non-forest use. Some examples of deforestation include the conversion of forest land to farms, ranches, or urban use.
Problems Associated With Deforestation
1. Atmospheric Problems
Deforestation contributes to global warming and is often cited as one of the main causes of the increase in the greenhouse effect. According to the “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change”, deforestation, mainly in tropical areas, could sum up to one-third of total anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions.
2. Hydrological Problems
The water cycle is also affected by deforestation. Trees extract groundwater through their roots and release it into the atmosphere. When part of a forest is removed, trees no longer transpire this water, resulting in much drier climatic conditions.
Deforestation reduces the water content of the soil and groundwater, as well as atmospheric moisture.
3. Problems Related to Biodiversity
Deforestation on a human scale leads to a decline in biodiversity and, on a global scale, is known to cause the extinction of many species.
Deforestation has resulted in a degraded environment with simplification or reduction of biodiversity. Most medicinal plants in wildlife and forest have been depleted due to habitat loss.
4. Economic Problems
Damage to forests and other aspects of nature could have a low standard of living in the world and reduce global GDP by around 7% by 2050, according to a report concluded at the meeting Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Bonn.
The short-term economic benefits of converting forests to agriculture or overexploitation of wood products generally result in long-term loss of income and long-term biological productivity.
5. Other Problems
- Loss of Concentrated oxygen.
- Soil erosion, contamination, creation of wasteland, etc.
- Depletion of natural resources such as minerals, flora and fauna, etc.
- Removal of forest cover on slopes will lead to landslides, floods, and flash floods, etc.
Measures Taken to Control Deforestation
1. Afforestation and Reforestation
Trees could be planted on land, which was formerly not under plant cover, to make a forest for commercial or other purposes, this is known as Afforestation.
The land that was once under the forest removed trees for various purposes could be replanted and converted into forest land, this is known as Reforestation.
Many reforestation projects involve large plantations of intensive single-species, single-use crops, known as Monoculture forests. Promising alternative agroforestry can be used to control deforestation.
2. Better Harvesting / Improving Cutting Practices
a) Selective Cutting: Only mature or weak trees can be cut and forests have a better chance of regenerating and surviving, however, this is not profitable for large-scale industrial use.
b) Chor Cutting: Removing all trees from a marked area, but taking care to replant the area with seedlings and balance the number of cuttings.
c) Coppicing: It is used to encourage stump sprouts from species such as aspen, red oak, beech or shortleaf pine and is generally achieved by clearcutting.
d) Harvesting Seed Trees: Here, some mature trees are left standing to serve as a seed source on a plot that is otherwise it will be cut.
e) Strip Cutting: It is about harvesting all the trees in a narrow corridor and to minimize damages.
3. Reducing Wastage
Instead of wasting unsuitable pulp for papermaking, other end products can be produced, such as fiberboard for construction. Waste paper can also be recycled.
4. Protection of Forests
a) Protecting forests against natural hazards such as large-scale fires and pests must be carried out with vigilance and diligence. Scientific research on the causes and methods to overcome these natural destructive agents must be intensified to save forests.
b) Overgrazing in forest areas should be strictly avoided as it destroys seedlings and plants, thus preventing forest regeneration.
c) Shifting cultivation should be checked.
d) The rights of tribes must be protected so that they can actively participate in forest conservation. The role of non-governmental organizations is important in this context.
5. Forest Policy Aims
a) Bringing 33% of geographical areas under forest cover.
b) Increasing forest cover through social forestry and afforestation on degraded land and also promoting Silviculture.
c) Create a massive peoples movement that involves encouraging tree planting, stopping cutting trees and thus reducing pressure on the existing forest.