Forests Extinction

Can you picture our earth without forests? Many of us cant. Forests cover
approximately one fifth of the worlds land surface and play an important role in
our everyday lives (Dudley 4). Forests provide us with many products and
services from helping maintain erosion to providing jobs for our citizens.

Humanity depends on the survival of a healthy ecosystem and deforestation is
causing many social, economic and ecological problems. One ecological problem is
Global warming witch is caused when carbon is released into the air after the
burning of forests. Governments and industries must become more aware of these
consequences of their activities and change accordingly. They need to cooperate
with forest management and work towards a future that benefits all. Humans need
to be educated about the current issues of the forests in order for us to save,
preserve or sustain these places that provide us with so much. Humans depend
tremendously on the worlds forests, but yet were the ones destroying them.

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For humans, the forests have many aesthetic, recreational, economic, and
cultural values. Timber and other products of the forests are important
economically both locally and as exports. They provide employment for those who
harvest the wood or for those who make products from the living forest. Forests
also provide us with medical drugs, dyes and fabrics. There are many people who
are dependent on forestland for their livelihoods. One third of the worlds
people depend on wood for fuel as a significant energy source (Dudley). Not only
do the forests provide some people with homes, but also provides a popular
setting for ecotourism, which includes hiking, camping, bird watching and other
outdoor adventure or nature study activities. All these activities and products
the forests provide us are at great risk from deforestation. Not only do forests
provide us with all this but also protect soil from erosion and reduces the
risks of landslides and avalanches. Trees help sustain freshwater supplies
therefore are an important factor in the availability of one of lifes basic
needs. Forests affect the climate and are also a very important source of
oxygen. One major factor that the forests carry is that they are the home to
over one half of the worlds total species (Dudley). Currently we are
discovering 20 new species of insects and 15 species of plants each day (Dudley
13). Recent reports by the World Resources Institute have shown that more
than 80% of the plants natural forests have already been destroyed
(Hatch). Yes humankind is the cause of deforestation, however us humans are also
capable of having a positive effect on this crisis. Tropical forests cover about
10 per cent of the worlds dry land surface, mostly located in South America
and Asia (Dudley 6). In the tropical forests of the world, deforestation is
occurring for agriculture and livestock pastures. The main cause is the unequal
distribution of land (Anderson). Temperate forests are found in land areas that
are warm enough and low enough to support trees but not so hot to be tropical.

They are found in North America, Europe and cooler parts of Australia (Dudley
4). The problems in temperate forests are not so much the decrease in overall
forest area, but the substantial change in the types of forests and their
ecological diversity and stability. Commercial forestry is the main cause of
deforestation in temperate forests. In very broad terms, the total area of
forest in Europe, the USSR and North America is likely to decrease only slightly
in the medium future, but the proportion of forest existing as plantation is
liable to rise sharply (Dudley 66). This however is going to lead to an
increase in conflict between the recreational and conservation interests and
will also tend to make forestry a more capital-intensive operation, thus
providing fewer jobs. Since so many people are dependent on the worlds
forests, deforestation will have a social, economical and ecological effect on
the world. Most of these effects are negative ones. The loss of forestlands is
connected to desertification, which translates into there being fewer trees,
thus decreasing the future forest workers employment. Heavy rainfall and high
sunlight quickly damage the topsoil in tropical rainforest, causing them to
regenerate slower and also providing insufficient farming grounds. When forests
are replanted there will also be a loss in quality. Also the medical treatments,
cures and vaccines will never be discovered if there are no forests to discover
them in. There may be a loss of future markets for ecotourism. The value of a
forest is often higher when it is left standing than it could be worth when it
is harvested (Dudley). Deforestation can cause the climate to change which could
cause and increase in floods and droughts. Global warming is a big factor in the
destruction of trees. Forests store large amounts of carbon that are released
when trees are cut or burned. It is said that deforestation and the burning of
biomass will be responsible for fifteen percent of the greenhouse effect between
1990 and 2025 (FAO). Because of global warming ranges of tree species could
shift with respect to altitude and latitude (Humankind 2). Furthermore, the
stress of such environmental change may make some species more susceptible to
the effects if insects, pollution, disease and fire (FAO). Also, areas of trees
may be lost and genetic diversity may decrease. The clearing of forestland
results in increase of erosion and landslides. Landslide is a descent of a mass
of earth and rock down a mountain slope. Landslides may occur when water from
rain and melting snow sinks through the earth on top of a slope, seeps through
cracks and pore spaces in underlying sandstone, and encounters a layer of
slippery material, such as shale or clay, inclined toward the valley (Encarta).

Logging has directly and indirectly damaged spawning grounds, blocked river
channels, raised water temperatures and caused water levels in streams to
fluctuate dangerously. Therefore, the removal of tress can reduce the viability
of fist stocks in their watershed and down streams environments. People destroy
or degrade forests because, for them, the benefits seem to outweigh the costs.

Underlying causes include such issues as poverty, unequal land ownership,
womens status, education and population. Immediate causes are often concerned
with a search for land and resources, including both commercial timber and fuel
wood (Dudley). The government and industry play a huge role in the destruction
or stability of forests. The government is the major aspect in controlling and
maintaining the forests. They have a huge say on what can and cant be done.

For example on March 14th 1996 the senate voted 54-42 against repealing a
section of the 1995 rescissions law that allows the forest industry to salvage
burned and downed trees from national forests (Shuster 1). They can restrict
loggers by making laws but also are the link between compromising with the
environmentalists. High unemployment and job loss is usually blamed on the
restrictions set on foresters. However this is a myth. Most of this unemployment
is from worldwide economic change. The production of value-added forest products
would create more jobs and bring more wealth to these logging communities. The
whole goal of this would be to reduce the pressure on the forests. If commercial
forestry is to have a future, its methods need to become more ecologically sound
and sustainable. The technique of salvage logging, removing dead and diseased
trees from the forest, is good if the loggers dont take advantage of it and
know what trees to go after. Another affective method loggers use is known as
whole tree harvesting. This uses all of the wood from a tree. The branches and
the treetops are converted into wood chips. Whole tree logging provides more
jobs for the people and more products to be sold for the economy. The government
must play a greater role in forest management to protect the environment and
employment. The government should ensure that the interests of all stakeholders
and as well as the long-term effects associated with forest areas are taken into
account during forest planning. Governments should stop defending the forest
industry from criticism and end the practice of subsidization. Propaganda
originating from governments and corporations requires elimination if the public
is to be able to make the right choices. Probably only the action of concerned
citizens and consumers will compel government and industry to make changes in
the forests. Individuals can communicate their uncertainty about the future of
the worlds forests to politicians, corporate executives and non-governmental
organizations through personal communication in the form of letters, telephone
calls, faxes and e-mails. Deforestation is a serious problem, but humans can
make a difference. And individual as well as a business can practice green
consumerism. They can make an effort to purchase the most ecologically sensitive
products. Recycled paper is always available, which can reduce the demand for
timber. One of the most important ways a person to have a positive effect is to
reduce his or her consumption of forest and related products. An increase in the
participation of reducing, reusing and recycling is necessary. Education is one
of the most effective ways to promote change in our environment. Society should
educate people of today to change their ways and teach the younger generations
to have respect for nature. The young people in our society should also be
taught about the biological, social and economic values of forests.

Environmental conservation should be as important as math, physics, and history
in school. Workers should be taught to use technology to enhance forest
ecosystems instead of destroying them for reforestation. If humans would just
see themselves as a part of nature, they will respect it so much more and not
just exploit it for its resources. Humans bear the responsibility for
deforestation and the global ecological crisis. But humankind has the abilities
and potential to change its ways and prevent the destruction of our worlds
forests. If the forests are protected and regenerated they will benefit us all
in many ways. Trees will help benefit the land from erosion. Endangered species
will have better chances for survival. Human health will benefit from medicinal
compounds that are given a chance to be disvocered. Local economies will benefit
from ecotourism and consumers worldwide will gain satisfaction from knowing that
their wood products were harvested in a sustainable manner that left four out of
five trees standing (Greenpeace). In order for this to occur humans are going to
have to undergo some degree of ideological change. Humans are going to have to
live more sustainable lives and become closer with nature. Once the crisis of
deforestation has passed, humankind will enjoy a finer existence, and will look
forward to a bright future.



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