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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