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Deforestation:Explained

Deforestation: 

The conversion of forest to another land use or the long-term reduction of the tree canopy cover below the minimum 10 percent threshold. 
Deforestation implies the long-term or permanent loss of forest cover and implies transformation into another land use.

Causes:

Need of Agricultural Land:The single biggest direct cause of tropical deforestation is conversion to cropland and pasture, mostly for subsistence, which is growing crops or raising livestock to meet daily needs. The conversion to agricultural land usually results from multiple direct factors. Building of new roads to earlier unclaimed lands causes The roads and the logged areas to become a magnet for settlers—farmers and ranchers who slash and burn the remaining forest for cropland or cattle pasture, completing the deforestation chain that began with road building.

Forest Fires:Each year, fires burn millions of hectares of forest worldwide. Fires are a part of nature but degraded forests are particularly vulnerable. These include heavily logged rainforests, forests on peat soils, or where forest fires have been suppressed for years allowing unnatural accumulation of vegetation that makes the fire burn more intensely. In other cases, forests that have been degraded by logging become fire-prone and are eventually deforested by repeated accidental fires from adjacent farms or pastures.

Population:Overpopulation too directly affects forest covers, as with the expansion of cities more land is needed to establish housing and settlements. Therefore forest land is reclaimed.

Industry: Palm oil, which is predominantly grown in Southeast Asia, is the world’s most widely used edible oil, found in everything from margarine to cookies, and soap to soups. The industry has come under unprecedented scrutiny in recent years by environmental activists and consumers, and has been blamed for deforestation, forest fires and worker exploitation.

Timber extraction 
Centuries-old trees are cut down to make timber or cellulose for the furniture or paper industry. Any system employed for wood cutting causes serious damage to the ecosystem, and these damages are amplified by construction of roads required for vehicles and to trasport chopped timber to its destination. For this reason, also many other economically unattractive trees which have an important biological and ecological value are are cut down.


Firewood collection 
This activity is undertaken especially by native populations, which due to recent population growth, must provide energy sources for their survival. This phenomenon adds to large-scale industrial timber exploitation.


Road Construction 
Besides the construction of roads to transport timber, also dam construction and industrial exploitation of mines contribute to massive deforestation

Mining: The impact of mining on tropical forests is growing due to rising demand and high mineral prices. Mining projects are often accompanied by major infrastructure construction, such as roads, railway lines and power stations, putting further pressure on forests and freshwater ecosystems. 

Climate change: Forest loss is both a cause and an effect of our changing climate. Climate change can damage forests, for instance by drying out tropical rainforests and increasing fire damage in boreal forests. Inside forests, climate change is already harming biodiversity, a threat that is likely to increase.

Natural causes as hurricanes, fires, parasites and floods also greatly contribute to deforestation

Deforestation and conversion of forest land to crop land has weakened the monsoon in India, a study by a team from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Bombay has found. The team from the Interdisciplinary Program in Climate Studies of IIT-B studied recent changes of land use and found that rainfall received in the North-Eastern and North-Central India has reduced owing to the destruction of forests. “ 

Effects:

Due to the large-scale deforestation, there has been a significant drop in the amount of rainfall received. Forests are deep-rooted and have more leaf area index (an indicator of plant canopies). They facilitate more recycled precipitation, a source of rainfall. The conversion of forests to crop lands, particularly in North-Eastern and North-Central India, has reduced the amount of rainfall received in these areas.

Global warming

Trees play a major role in controlling global warming. The trees balance in the atmosphere by controlling the greenhouse gases. With the increase in deforestation, a number of greenhouse gases is increasing causing global warming.

Floods

When it rains, trees absorb and store a large amount of water with the help of their roots. Due to deforestation, the trees are cut down and the flow of rainwater is disrupted which causes a flood in many areas. 

Soil erosion

Tree roots anchor the soil. Due to the loss of forests, the topsoil gets direct access to sunlight and heavy rainfall which causes soil erosion. This leads to the fall in the quality of soil which makes it useless for any purpose.

Loss of biodiversity

This is one of the main problems caused due to deforestation. It leads to the extinction of many animal and plant species which in turn affects the food cycle. Due to deforestation many wonderful species of animals and plants have been lost, and many others remain endangered. It is estimated that around 50 to 100 species of animals are lost each day as a result of the destruction of their habitats.

Climate change 

Due to the loss of the forest covers, the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere increases which results in global warming. This results in a change in the climatic condition.

Solutions:

(i) All nations should promote the regeneration of degraded forest lands to increase permanent forest cover, reduce pressure on natural forest, conserve biodiversity, protect water sheds and soils and stabilize climax.

(ii) There should be a concerted effort to prevent encroachment pressures by providing land security to small and landless farmers through land tenure law, land reform or agarian reform.

(iii) There should be proper modification in the development schemes (i.e., mining, hydroelectric, road building, plantation etc.) to minimise their direct and indirect impacts on natural forests.

(iv) Over grazing in forest areas should be regulated by government.

(v) There should be efforts to relieve pressure on forests by decreasing waste in wood processing, increasing the efficiency of wood burning stoves and seeking alternative raw materials.

(vi) Ecological stability should receive precedence over the economic stability in the matter of forest growth.

(vii) Efforts should be made to involve local people, NGOs and forest department in developing degraded fore; t lands as well as conserving the existing forests.

(viii) There should be effort to encourage sustainable forest management in order to maintain ecological balance.

(ix) Public awareness should be created against the hazards of deforestation.

(x) Forest should be honoured not as a source of revenue but as a global asset to be protected for the well being of the globe.

Organisations Fighting Deforestation:

Amazon Watch:A non-profit organization founded to protect the Amazon rainforest and advance the rights of indigenous peoples in the Amazon basin, Amazon Watch focuses on deforestation and global warming. It also engages in activities like campaigning for the rights of indigenous peoples, strengthening the capacity of indigenous communities in the Amazon to advocate for their own rights, seeking protection for threatened areas and vulnerable indigenous populations in the Amazon rainforest and educating using media coverage, websites, publication and documentary films.

Canadian Forestry Association:Established in the year 1865, the main objective of the Canadian forestry Association is to support in all matters related to the conservation of forests It organizes programs such as Envirothon Canada, CFA kits, teaching and kids corner to educate people regarding the importance of forersts.

Conervation International: Conservation International combines science, policy and fieldwork to hel p communities, countries and societies protect the Earth’s ecosystem. It mainly focuses on deforestation and global warming, working with communities, governments and partner organizations through a combination of policy, fieldwork and science in order to tackle deforestation.

Forest Stewardship Council Canada (FSC):The FSC is a part of a global Non-profit organization with offices around the world to operate the FSC program. It enables businesses and consumers to make informed choices about the forest products they buy, and create positive change to keep forests healthy. 

Rainforest Action Network:RAN envisions a world where each generation sustains increasingly healthy forests, where the rights of all communities are respected, and where corporate profits never come at the expense of people or the planet.

Rainforest Alliance:The Rainforest alliances works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behaviour.

Trees for the Future:An agro-forestry resource centre working with people to improve livelihoods and restore degraded lands to sustainable productivity through trees planting. Trees for the future plants trees in Africa, Asia and Latin America in order to combat deforestation and global warming.

United Nation organisations and  programmes:The United Nations Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (or UN-REDD Programme) is a collaborative programme of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), created in 2008 in response to the UNFCCC decisions on the Bali Action Plan and REDD at COP-13. It should not be confused with REDD+, a voluntary climate change mitigation approach that has been developed by Parties to the UNFCCC The overall development goal of the Programme is “to reduce forest emissions and enhance carbon stocks in forests while contributing to national sustainable development”. The UN-REDD Programme supports nationally led REDD+ processes and promotes the informed and meaningful involvement of all stakeholders, including indigenous peoples and other forest-dependent communities, in national and international REDD+ implementation.The Programme has expanded steadily since its establishment and now has over 60 official Partner Countries spanning Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America-Caribbean. 

In addition to the UN-REDD Programme, other initiatives assisting countries that are engaged in REDD+ include the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative, the Global Environment Facility, Australia’s International Forest Carbon Initiative, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, and the Green Climate Fund.The work of the UN-REDD Programme is guided by its 2016-2020 Strategic Framework, with the goal to: Reduce forest emissions and enhance carbon stocks in forests while contributing to national sustainable development.

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