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Deforestation and its Effects

Updated on November 30, 2012

This beautiful Earth is characterized by its large oceans, diverse inhabitants, and luscious trees and shrubbery. Unfortunately, our trees are threatened so much that the significant loss of any more greenery could directly hurt our oceans, inhabitants and, essentially, nearly everything in the world. The act of cutting down or removing trees is called deforestation. Deforestation is done for a variety of reasons including using the wood for business or clearing the land for farms and neighborhoods. Clearing the land to make room for people and their living arrangements is called urban sprawl. Deforestation can also be unintentional, such as overgrazing done by farm animals or a wildfire. The effect of deforestation is both large and diverse, including environmental, economic, and social impacts.

Environmental Impact

Forests and trees provide us with environmental benefits such as clean air to breathe and a diverse animal kingdom habitat. The air we breathe is a delicate combination of elements that is often disrupted by the addition of other unwanted pollutants. Sometimes our air becomes more polluted than we would like to believe. This pollution not only affects our air, but also our climate, as polluted air is a leading factor in global climate change. The air is best purified naturally by flora. The direct relation between trees and air quality means fewer trees, less clean air. The forest is also a miraculous home for species we have yet to even discover. The species that we are inadvertently killing to extinction could help with advancements and medical studies.

Other environmental benefits of forests and trees may not be so obvious, like prevention of soil erosion and helping to decrease water pollution. When trees are cut down, that area loses its most valuable source of nutrients. Once the soil becomes nutrient poor, erosion and flooding increases. The lack of trees also means there is no wind barrier for the top layer of soil and so wind erosion becomes a very terrible problem. Trees also create a physical barrier for pollutants. After it rains, the rainfall flows into nearby lakes and streams, usually being somewhat filtered by the shrubbery that line the body of water. When there is nothing, but plain, nutrient-poor soil, any pollutants flow straight into the lake or stream.

Economic Impact

Forests have economic benefits too, as trees have given us countless modern-day luxuries and are the driving force in lumber-oriented businesses. Logs or plywood can be made into furniture or other household items. Trees are also turned into paper and cardboard, which are used on a daily basis by most people. Often, we forget about the crucial importance of non-wood products that trees provide us with, as well. Such products include dyes, oils, resins, fibers, waxes, and gums.

Social Impact

The social importance of forests is also notable, as deforestation has been known to cause disagreements and fights among territories. Sometimes, indigenous people live near a valuable tropical forested area. If loggers attempt to cut down trees within the area, a dispute can occur between the native people and the intruders.

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