The Problem of Deforestation Essay

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The Problem of Deforestation

The world’s forests are in grave danger. Over half of the original forest cover has been destroyed, and things are set to deteriorate unless the current alarming rate of deforestation is checked. Every minute an estimated 26 hectares of forest is lost – that’s an area equivalent to 37 football pitches - and it is not difficult to see that if this continues we will be left with a planet devoid of woodland. This would be catastrophic: not only are forests home to some of the most important species on earth, but they also play a vital role in regulating the climate and making the planet habitable.

Much of the earth was once covered by trees, but the majority of these
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People have been living in and around tropical rain forests for tens of thousands of years, taking what they needed from the wealth of natural resources available without compromising their environment. However, in the last two centuries populations have expanded, requiring more and more space for housing and agriculture. Coupled with the extremely lucrative international timber trade in recent years, this has brought about an unparalleled degradation of the rain forests.

The two most commonly cited causes of deforestation are shifting cultivation and commercial logging. In the past, indigenous peoples have farmed the rain forests, felling trees to allow cultivation of crops and grazing space for animals, and moving on when the soil becomes less fertile. This is no threat to the forests, provided that it is carried out sustainably, and used areas are left to regenerate for long periods before repeating the process. Problems arise when the land is not allowed sufficient time to recover, and intensive farming results in irreversible soil degradation. This is the present situation, due to the needs of the growing population - and some sources identify shifting cultivation as the cause of 70 per cent of the deforestation in Africa.

As with shifting cultivation, if logging is carried out in a controlled way it can be implemented with only minor disturbance

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