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The
world we live in today gets affected by processes which are mainly
environmental, but the severity of damage being caused, is not recognized by
many people. Today, there are several
problems which are human-induced that are prevalent, and deforestation is one
of the major problems that will be effecting our environment sooner (Larson et al., 2015).

 

Deforestation,
according to the Dictionary of Geography (1999), is defined as “the
deliberate clearance of forested land by cutting or burning. It can have a
major impact on surface water flows, channel hydrographs and soil erosion as
the interception layer of the canopy and the soil binding properties of the
roots are removed” (Skinner, Redfern and Farmer, 1999).  Due to deforestation, previous norms of the
earth’s climate are changing consistently, acclaimed also by many scientists.

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Deforestation has risen to dangerous levels in recent years by causing
numerous effects on the environment. The whole ecological cycle is disturbed
when there is a reduction in forests. The forest acting as a carbon “sink”, suffers
the whole cycle when a forest is cut down because forests help to offset the effect
of Green House Gases (GHG) on the atmosphere by taking in Carbon dioxide (CO2).

There are several factors that have been contributing to deforestation
for many years; traditional shifting agriculture and permanent agriculture are
one of the main causes. In tradition shifting agriculture, when the trees are
burnt they make the soil more fertile by releasing more nutrients into it. Regeneration
periods last approximately 15-20 years in traditional farming, causing the
clearing of trees due to the movement of
families from one area to another. Permanent agriculture is when the same land
is used to grow the same crops in consecutive years; causing deforestation as good
crops cannot be grown in many soils in continuous years.  

Cattle ranching, through permanent agriculture, is another cause of
deforestation as on a local scale, there is a decline of deforestation due to
the law in tropical regions stating that “ranchers must retain half their land
as forested areas”. These causes of deforestation are a few to list with others
including infrastructure expansion, logging urban expansions and over-population (Larson
et al., 2015)

 

 Research has proved on many
occasions that deforestation is one of the
principal forces behind climate change. Predictions made by many scientists, on the impacts of climate
change, have in fact started to occur faster.  The burning of fossil fuels branching
from industrial sources, caused an estimated 75-80% of global emissions. In the
tropics mainly, emissions caused by deforestation were sourced with the
remaining 20- 25%. The
worlds biodiversity needs to be saved alongside its people from the disastrous
climate change and this can only be done by addressing deforestation and the
burning of fossil fuels with urgent effectiveness (Mrs. Archana K, 2013).

Forests play a crucial role in our
lives, and are not only to just humans but are home to many of the worlds
endangered wildlife species. Worldwide, there are approximately 1.6 billion
people who depend on forest for their livelihoods; with an astonishing number
of 60 million relying for survival in areas. They purify the air that we
breathe, improve the water that we consume, provide us with medicinal plants,
preserve watersheds and prevent erosion of soil by stabilising it.  Due to deforestation, forests are the greatest
cause of climate change, and they are the foremost solution to saving the
planet too. The threat to wildlife and plants due to climate change is immense
as heat waves, floods and droughts, hurricanes and disastrous weather events,
are all rising by change in the earth’s climate patterns due to the increase in
concentration of Green House Gases (GHG).  To regulate these climate patters, when GHG’s
are released into the atmosphere, a natural reservoir is produced from trees whereby
they absorb and store Carbon dioxide (CO2) (Watson et
al., 1996).

Deforestation impacts climate
change in many ways. Global change of energy; In the atmosphere, the increase
of concentration of Carbon dioxide can cause change to the global change of
energy as thermal infrared radiation can be absorbed by Carbon dioxide into the
earth’s atmosphere. Furthermore, micrometeorological processes also cause the global
change of energy. The regions radiation budget can be affected by the increase
of the lands albedo, due to deforestation. Effects on lowland plains; Higher elevations of rainfall and cloud formation are
produced due to effect of deforestation on lowland plains. Local and global
climate gets influenced through the absorption of solar energy, wind and water
vapour flows, due to deforestation. Disrupt weather conditions; Weather conditions
are also effected as deforestation increases flooding, desertification and
creates drier and hotter climates. These climate changes enhance monsoon rains
and floods which increase due to the severity of change in climate. Desertification; Cutting of forests and degradation
of land in dry forest zones results in dangerous events of deforestation on
desertification. Global warming; Deforestation affects the global atmosphere on
a big scale. With an increase of Greenhouse Gases (GHG) in the atmosphere,
carbon dioxide concentration increases, leading to disruptions in the global
carbon cycle and therefore causing global mean temperatures to rise. What trees
do to help eliminate this problem is that they store Carbon dioxide by trapping
it in their roots, leaves and soils, to remove it from the air. That is why
when deforestation takes place, stored gas in these plants and trees are
released, causing levels of Carbon dioxide to rise, therefore leading to
weather and climate changes. Effect on Agriculture; Plants get affected the
most by Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as their rate of photosynthesis
increases and transpiration decreases (Kazam,
2010).

 

 

 

 

 

 

The real question here is, what can be
done to create a sustainable development for our world. Worldwide committees, organisations,
charities and individuals have addressed these issues the past, hoping to
achieve a healthier, a more sustained environment by focusing on potential
solutions of deforestation. Consumer power is one of the major solutions, as we
dispose of billions of products like tissue, paper, books and food which are
produced from the result of deforestation. Currently, there are many programmes
and organisations in place, all striving to lessen the effect of deforestation
on climate change. Greenpeace founded in 1970, is an independent international
organisation who is passionate about protecting the earth. They promote
solutions by investigating causes of destruction made to the world’s atmosphere
by documenting the problems to gain a greener, peaceful future. By 2020, they
hope to achieve zero deforestation. In 2010, they launched a campaign to stop
Nestle from using oils formed by destructions of rainforests, as this problem
was leading to cattle ranching and moratoria on plantations of soya, both issues
that have yet to be resolved. The result was that companies who owned
deforestation linked farms were excluded from Nestles supply chain. Not only
Nestle, but many other companies upon hearing this did the same including
McDonald’s, Unilever, Kraft and many more (Greenpeace International, 2018).  The main
reason behind destruction of forests is the global demand of paper and it only
exists because consumers don’t have anyone to account for. To implement these
solutions locally, individuals can turn to re-use, reduce and recycling to
reduce wastage of trees. These solutions have been implemented by our
governments and societies so that locally we can make a change to affect the
world globally. If globally these actions took place, it would impact our
climate change in a positive way, as the less number of trees demolished for
our daily consumer needs, the less the concentration of Carbon dioxide being
released into the atmosphere, alongside logging. Forests need to be used and
managed responsibly and for that strategies need to be put in place. Worlwildlife.org(WWF)
is a conservation organisation that has been protecting our nature for 50
years. They work together with REDD+ to implement strategies to developing
countries, to help them understand the responsibility. To ensure this, they
help develop strategies in countries like Indonesia, Nepal, Colombia to help build
skills to implement these strategies and over the past 10 years they have
helped allocate $10 billion. The impact these strategies will have on our
climate change is that farmers and less educated people will come to realise
the deforestation and degradation of their forests, by knowing the risks of
forest land conversion and logging. This would initially help develop emission
baselines with the help of WWF’s monitoring (World Wildlife Fund, 2018). Technology
is the fastest growing phenomenon which can be used to tackle deforestation. Already
in place, is a high-resolution map developed by Google, in partnership with
NASA and U.S Geological Survey (USGS) to show global
deforestation. This map identifies the forest landscape and shows which regions
are being affected by deforestation the most. This proved very
beneficial as it displayed detailed maps of forests that were undergoing
changes in the years 2000-2012 due to logging, cattle ranching etc. With the
help of technology, we can locate and indicate areas around the world which
need more focusing on due to deforestation. The map doesn’t only just indicate
the negative effects or the downside of deforestation, but also shows the
outcomes of policies and changes that have been placed e.g. Brazil was
indicated a positive change where over the past decade, logging illegally had
been reduced. As technology is always improving, in the future Google hope to
produce a real-time monitoring system of forests called Global Forest Watch 2.0
(GFW 2.0), which would bring all networks together to fight deforestation. With
the help of this new technology, we will be able to identify where
deforestation is taking place (AZoCleantech.com, 2018).

Education is one of the key
solutions to this problem. A lot of people currently are not aware of the
impacts of deforestation climate change is having. Society doesn’t address
these issues because they don’t value them. How can they be valued?
Deforestation is an issue that a lot of sustained countries haven’t faced, so
promotion is necessary and key to make the unaware, aware.  Rising concentrations of Carbon dioxide is
changing the earth’s climate but the population isn’t aware of how its linked
to deforestation; unless that connection is made, developing a sustained world
is near to impossible. Lastly, to
reduce climate change, Greenhouse Gases need to be reduced. In 1997, The Kyoto
Protocol was adopted complemented by The United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. To achieve emission targets,
they implicated three ‘flexibly mechanisms’ to lower their costs. The first
mechanism was Joint Implementation (JI), second was Clean Development Mechanism
(CDM) and the third mechanism was Emissions Trading (ET). These mechanisms, in
return for reduction units and certified emission reductions, implemented projects
to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and to reabsorb it through reforestation, Furthermore,
by assisting parties, the Convention’s objective was contributed towards, and they
helped achieve a sustainable development (Mrs. Archana K, 2013).  

Deforestation is causing our climate to change. Now is the time for people
to realise and prioritise the global threats caused by deforestation and
implement ways to preserve and re-establish forests to decrease Carbon dioxide
concentration and Greenhouse Gas emissions from the earth’s atmosphere. 

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