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Anonymous asked in Science & MathematicsEarth Sciences & Geology · 1 decade ago

what is deforestation?

what are the effects of deforestation?

6 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Deforestation refers to the loss of trees in forests. People have been living in and around forests for thousands of years, using the resources it provides without causing damage. However, as population increases, more and more land is needed to provide food. In developing countries, the fertility of farmland is rapidly decreasing, due to deforestation. This forces people to move into forest areas and cut down trees to make room for crops. The rate of deforestation in certain forests in South America, Asia, Africa are a matter of great concern. Every year, 4 million hectares (one hectare equals 10,000 square metres) of forests are cleared of trees.

    What are the effects of deforestation?

    The consequences of deforestation are complex and far-reaching. The effects will be felt in the country concerned as well as at a global level. The most obvious effect is a loss of plant and animal species; without the protection of trees and plants, the topsoil will quickly become degraded through erosion. Trees both shade soil from the effects of heat and rain, and help to anchor soil to prevent heavy rains washing it away. As soil becomes eroded, it loses fertility and forces farmers to abandon land and clear even more forest. Soil which is washed away may also build up within waterways and block them - this is called siltation, and can have serious effects on the water supply.

  • 5 years ago

    Deforestation is the clearing, destroying, or otherwise removal of trees through deliberate, natural or accidental means. It can occur in virtually any area densely populated by trees and other plant life, however the majority of it is currently happening into the Amazon rainforest.

    Deforestation occurs for several reasons, including: farming, mostly cattle due to its quick turn around; and logging, for materials and development. It has been happening for thousands of years, arguably since man began converting from hunter/gatherer to agricultural based societies, and required larger, unobstructed tracks of land to support cattle, crops, and housing. It was just following the start of the modern era that it became an epidemic.

  • 1 decade ago

    deforestation is the complete removal of the trees and brush in an area. when that happens you get erosion, loss of clean air, and loss of animal habitat. Very bad

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    deforestation is when the forest is depleted,

    teh effects are beavers dont have wood to chew on and furniture manufacturers have to pay more for wood

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  • 1 decade ago

    What, you can't even use a dictionary? What are thery teaching in school these days?

  • 1 decade ago

    Effects of Deforestation

    The United Nations Confrence on Enviroment and Development (UNCED) in 1992 defines deforestion as "land degradation in arid, semi-arid, and sub-humid areas resulting from variuos factors including climatic variations and human activites." The effects of deforestation can be catagorized in three ways. They are: enviromental effects, local social effects, and global social effects. Many of the enviromental effects contribute to the severity of the social problems. That is why it is important to understand the enviromental effects of deforestation and how they contribute to the social effects of deforestation.

    Enviromental Effects

    Click here to see images of the effects of deforestaiton

    * Effects on Biodiversity

    The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) defines biodiversity as "the wealth of life on Earth, the millions of plants, animals, and micro-organisms, the gens they contain and the intricate ecosystems they build into the living enviroment." Rainforest are one of the most biologically diverse regions of the world. Over a millions species of plants and animals are known to live in the forests and millions more are not classified. The unique enviroment of the rainforest allows for such biodiversity to exist.

    The process of deforestation in various geographical regions is destroying this unique enviroment. Consequently, many animals and plants that live in the rainforests face the specter of extinction. The extinction of the plants and animals leads to diminished gene pool. The lack of biodiversity and a reduced planetary gene pool could have many unforeseen ramifications, some of which could be fatal to the future of humanity. In addition, there are ethical, aesthetic and philosophical question regarding mankind's responsibility for other life. This issue concerns more industrialized countries in the North more than it concerns lesser developed countries in the South. This is especially true in developing countries such as Brazil. I will elaborate on that later.

    Another isssue that probably concerns the North more that the South is the advancement of humanity. As the planetary gene pool continues to diminish, there are less oppertunities for advancements in many fields. In particular, medicine may benefit from the cultivation of certain plants that grow only in rainforests. The medicines that come from them could cure cancer, AIDS, or other terminal deseases. Of course, that claim can easily be dismissed as speculative, given that there is little or no evidence to support it. However, it is too early to dismiss the possibility. Furthermore, if the rainforests are completely destroyed, the oppertunity to explore that possibility would be lost forever. The effect that would have on future generations is incalculable. Preserving the rainforest would leave many oppertunities in medicine and many other fields open for future generations to explore and further advance humanity.

    There is at least on issue that would concern both North and South equally. That is preservation and is compatibility with forest use and management. Different people have different uses of rainforests. Indigenous people who live in the forests, as well as the non-indigenous people who live in the forests, the forest is their home, source of food, shelter, nourishment, recreation, culture, and livelihood. The forest provides the materials for thier homes, wood for their fires, the fish, the edible plants, and many more neccessities as well as amenities. Some of the non-indigenous people sell some of the forest resources for money. They do not exploit the forest because they sell commodities in limited numbers to preserve the forest resources for the future. This ensures that they can continue to make thier livelihoods by selling products from the forest.

    There are people that see the forest as sources of money. These people exploit of the forest. They cut down trees for rare, exotic timber that sell at high prices. Their primary concern is profits. In the short term, they can make huge profits selling exotic timber. If this is continued for some time, eventually, there will be no more trees to cut down. People who make their living cutting and selling trees will go bankrupt. The same thing applies to gold mining and raising cash crops. In the case of cash crops, what happens is the soil, which is usually poor to begin with, further degrades until the soil is no longer good for agriculture. People who make their living off of raising cash crops are forced to move to other areas until all the soil goes bad. Then the cash corp farmer goes bankrupt.

    Can all of the diverse interests, the needs of forest dwellers and the wants of big business people, be reconciled with? Is it possible to preserve enough of a rainforest while allowing parts of it to be used for commerical purposes? Are the need of the animals living in the forest a factor in this debate? Any sucessful policy of action regarding the management of rainforest must address of these questions. The matter is further complicated when the various effects a single action can have are considered. For exmaple, if too much timber is cut, the soil that once had sufficient cover to keep from going dry now gets baked in the sun, that same soil is subject to erosion, the forest becomes less capable of surviving big storms, and the whole forest begins to degrade and eventually die. That does not even consider how these effect will affect the animals living in the forest. Another example is mining for gold. The mercury that is used gets into the food chain, ultimately giving forest dwellers a case of mecury poisoning. How does mercury poisoning affect other animals or plants in the food chain? A third an final example is cash crop agriculture. First of all, clearing the timber exposes the soil to the sun and makes the soil suseptible to erosion. The soil itself is not really good for agriculture, and the soil becomes totally useless in a matter of years so the cylcle is started again. This rapid destruction of rainforest has various effect of forest dwellers and animals. None of which are good. The indigenous people and the forest dwellers do not benefit from the exploitation of the forest. Exploitation, through the destruction of the forest, destroys the source of life of the indigenous people, forest dwellers and animals that live in the forest. On the same token, the rich business man can not get what he wants if he must consider the needs of the people and animals who live in the rainforests. If he considers the need of the people and the animals, then he can not cut down all the trees he want. He might not even be able to cut trees in certain areas. That means his profits will not be as big as he can get. It is a real dilemma. Unfortunely, the trend is in favor of the rich business man.

    * Climate Change

    When an area of rainforest is either cut down or destroyed, there are various climate changes that happen as a result. The following is a list of the various climate changes with a brief description of why they come about.

    1. Desication of previously moist forest soil

    What happens is because of the exposure to the sun, the soil gets baked and the lack of canopy leaves nothing to prevent the moisture from quickly evaporating into the atmosphere. Thus, previously moist soil becomes dry and cracked.

    2. Dramatic Increase in Temperature Extremes

    Trees provide shade and the shaded area has a moderated temperature. With shade, the temperature may be 98 degrees Farenheit during the day and 60 degrees at night. With out the shade, temperatures would be much colder during the night and around 130 degrees during the day.

    3. Moist Humid Region Changes to Desert

    This is related to the desicaiton of previously moist forest soil. Primarily because of the lack of moisture and the inability to keep moisture, soil that is exposed to the sun will dry and turn into desert sand. Even before that happens, when the soil becomes dry, dust storms become more frequent. At that point, the soil becomes usesless.

    4. No Recycling of Water

    Moisture from the oceans fall as rain on adjacent coastal regions. The moisture is soon sent up to the atmosphere through the transpiration of foliage to fall again on inland forest areas. This cycle repeats several times to rain on all forest regions.

    5. Less Carbon Dioxide and Nitrogen Exchange

    The rainforests are important in the carbon dioxide exchange process. They are second only to oceans as the most important "sink" for atmospheric carbon dioxide. The most recent survey on deforestaiton and greenhouse gas emisions reports that deforestation may account for as much as 10% of current greenhouse gas emmisions. Greenhouse gases are gases in the atmosphere that literally trap heat. There is a theory that as more greenhouse gasses are released into the atmosphere, more heat gets trapped. Thus, there is a global warming trend in which the average temperature becomes progressivily higher.

    6. More Desertification

    According to the United Nations Enviromental Programme (UNEP) in 1977, deforestation is an important factor contributing to desertificaiton. What is unclear is how fast deserts are expanding is controversial. According to UNEP, between 1958 and 1975, the Saharen Desert expanded southward by about 100km. In 1980 UNEP estimated that desertification threatened 35 per cent of the world's land surface and 20 per cent of the world's population. Recently, groups challenged those conclusions. Some scientists claim that the conclusion were based on insufficient data. Nevertheless, desertification still threatens more and more drylands.

    7. Soil Erosion

    The relationship between deforestation and soil ersion. Deforestation is known to contribute to run-off of rainfall and intensified soil erosion. The seriousness of the problem depends much on soil characteristics and topography.

    8. Other Effects

    There many rewards such as clean air and clean water, perhaps the two most important, that forests provide. Rainforests also provide many aesthetic, recreational and cultural rewards. If the rainforests are destroyed, then these rewards dissappear. This has major social repercusions for the entire world.

    Social Effects of Deforestation in Brazil

    The process of deforestation had numerous social effects for the population of Brazil and the world. The indigenous people that lived in the rainforest were the hardest hit, so naturally when examining the social effects of deforestation, much of the analysis will focus on the indigenous population. It is equally important to note that besides the indigenous population, there were also riverine agriculturalists and backwoods agriculturalists, hunters, and extractivists that lived in the rainforests. The information presented here comes from case study reports in the regions of Rondonia and Para (see map).

    The riverine agriculturalists, mostly Portuguese-speaking settlers, occupied the varzeas, the fertile flood plains, for permanent agriculture. This was possible because soil fertility was renewed annually during flooding. In 1990, the flood plains made up about 5 per cent of the Amazon's areas and the flood plains included over half of all the land suitable for permanent agriculture. Their lifestyles were similar to the indigenous population, but unlike the indigenous population, they sold some crops, fish, jute, and the like to local traders.

    The third group were the hunters, backwoods agriculturalists, and extractivists. Extractivists collected rubber, Brazil nuts and other forest prduct to sell. They used the money to buy necessities, such as tools, guns, and a few staples. Most of the people in this group, like the indigenous people practiced long fallow shifting agriculture and keep a few animals.

    All three groups and in particular the indigenous poluation suffered greatly from the process of deforestation. Case studies documented in detail how outside people invaded the indigenous population reserves and how various devices deprived the indigenous people of their traditional lands and forest. Gold prospectors brought diseases that soon wipe out most of the indigenous population. The mercury gold prospectors used to separate gold from sand polluted drinking water and fish. Consequently, the indigenous population suffered greatly from mercury poisoning because fish was the primary source of protein for them. Cattle ranchers, loggers and land speculators also invaded the indigenous lands. Many forests, especially those near navigable steams were cleared. This affected fish reproductions, since most fish species depended on forest sources. Water reserves, hydrologic regime, soils and local climates, and agricultural productivity were also affected.

    The indigenous population were losing the fight to save their lands. They often and fiercely with the outsiders invading their lands. The outcome was deadly. When the indigenous people turned to legal alternatives, even with the support of allies like the Church and enviromental NGOs, their efforts were ineffective. In addition, laws were passed that vested the ownership of sub-terrianian minerals in the state. Thus, in spite of constitutional guarantees and legislation, the indigenous people did not have secure ownership of their lands. In addition, the Brazilian government passed laws that promoted the development of the Amazonian region. The primary aim was to develop cash crops and other raw products for export to other countries. There are also other lwas affecting the indigenous poulation that have not been talked about. The net result is that the idigenous people are being forcably expelled from their homes.

    The other two groups of traditional rainforest dwellers also suffered greatly from the effects of deforestation. There was widespread mercury poisoning, pollution from mine sludge, and the intensive us of herbicides to control the growth of vegetation near powerlines and roads. fish populations and agriclutural production was declining. These problems were further compounded by dams. They changed fish migrating patter and flooded numerous communities. The large shallow Tucurui reservoir in Para brought plagues of misquitos. Motorized commercial fisherman came and overfished the region and deprived the local people of their main source of protein and a principle source of cash. Consequently, many flood plain cultivators left to clear parcels in remaining forests elsewhere or to join the partially employed in urban area.

    The extractivits were also hard hit. Thr rubber trees and Brazil nuts tree were granted as concessions large entreprenuers with a monopoly of marketing these product and supplying producers. Although the rubber boom collapsed in the twentieth century, during the temporary revival during the Second World War, many extractivists stayed on as independent operators who continued to exploit the lands they exploit for generations. Violent conflicts erupted between the extrativits and land speculators and ranchers when land speclators and ranchers wanted to clear the rubber trees and Brazil nut trees. Many extractivist were forcably evicted and had to seek livelihoods elsewhere.

    There was an ironic twist to this problem. That is that many of the new migrants to the Amazonian area were not any better off than they were before. Many small farmers, who were either settled officially by the National Institute for Colonization and Agrian Reform in Brazil (INCRA) or attracted by the promise of abundant land or high wage, soon lost their jobs. They faced many of the same problems that the traditional settlers faced. The farmers often either entered the ranks of the urban poor or went on to clear more land for rich landlords. It seems reasonable to conclude that as a result of its acitons, the Brazilian government has made unemployment an even greater problem. Also it has agrivated the problem of migrants and homeless people.

    As a post script, it is import to note that not all of the soicial consequences presented here are directly caused by deforestation in the Amazonian region in Brazil

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