Deforestation

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Important Facts 1
Historical Background 1-2
Background Law 2
Causes of Deforestation 2
The Green House Effect 2-3
Reducing Deforestation 3
Case Studies 3-4
Pros and Cons 4-5
Conclusion 5
Bibliography 6


Ninety percent of our trees, 300 - 900 years old, have been cut down.
The remaining 10% is all we will ever have. Deforestation is a significant issue
of our time and must be taken seriously if we want to protect our remaining
forests. The definition of deforestation by the Random House Dictionary of the
English Language is "to divest or clear of forests or trees" and we must stop
deforestation to save our planet. My intent on writing this essay is to
enlighten the reader about the facts on deforestation and to express my opinions
about deforestation.
There are approximately 3 400 million hectares of forests in the world,
nearly 25% of the world's land area. Close to 58% of the forests are found in
the temperate/boreal regions and 42% in the tropics. For about a millennium,
people have benefited from the forests. Forest products range from simple
fuelwood and building poles to sophisticated natural medicines, and from high-
tech wood based manufactures to paper products. Environmental benefits include
water flow control, soil conservation, and atmospheric influences. Brazil's
Amozonia contains half of the world's tropical rain forests. The forests cover a
region 10 times the size of Texas. Only about 10% of Brazil's rain forests have
been cut to date, but cutting goes on at an uncontrollable rate.
Since pre-agricultural times the world's forests have declined one fifth
from 4 to 3 billion hectares. Temperate forests have lost 35% of their area,
subtropical woody savannas and deciduous forests have lost 25% and ever-green
forests which are now under the most pressure have lost the least area, 6%,
because they were inaccessible and sparsely populated. Now with new technology,
such as satellites systems, low altitude photography and side looking radar,
scientists can now figure that the world is losing about 20.4 million hectares
of tropical forests annually and if these figures are not reduced, we will lose
all of our tropical forests in about 50 years. It has been suggested that the
high deforestation rates are caused partly by the fact that the new surveys are
more accurate and thus reveal old deforestation rates that have not been
detected with older methods.
At first there was concern only among foresters about deforestation but
now the public has created organizations such as Green Peace to help increase
awareness and reduce deforestation. The Food and Agriculture Organization or
F.A.O, has worked mainly within the forest community to find new and better ways
to manage the forests. Also, in 1985 there was the introduction of the Tropical
Forestry Action Plan or T.F.A.P. This plan involved the F.A.O, United Nations
development programs, the World Bank, other development agencies, several
tropical country governments, and several government organizations. Together
they developed a new strategy. More than 60 countries have decided to prepare
national forestry action plans to manage their forests.
Tropical deforestation has various direct causes: The permanent
conversion of forests to agricultural land, logging, demand for fuelwood, forest
fires and drought. Slash and burn clearing is the single greatest cause of
tropical rain forest destruction world wide. Air pollution is also a major
threat to the forests in the northern hemisphere and is expected to increase.
Reduced growth, defoliation and eventual death occur in most affected forests.
From 1850 to 1980 the greatest forest losses occurred in North America and the
Middle East (-60%), South Asia (-43%) and China (-39%). The highest rates of
deforestation per year are now in South America (1.3%) and Asia (0.9%).
Over the last two decades the world became interested in the loss of
tropical forests as a result of expanding agriculture, ranching and grazing,
fuelwood collection and timber exportation. The consequences are increased soil
erosion, irregular stream flow, climate change and loss of biodiversity.
Deforestation is second only to the burning of fossil fuels as a human source of
atmospheric carbon dioxide. Almost all carbon releases from deforestation
originate in the tropics. Global estimates of the amount of carbon given off
annually by deforestation is 2.8 billion metric tons. Deforestation accounts for
about 33% of the annual emissions of carbon dioxide by humans. In 1987 11
countries were responsible for about 82% of this net carbon release: Brazil,
Indonesia, Colombia, Cote d'Ivoire, Thailand, Laos, Nigeria, Vietnam,
Philippines, Myanmar and India. During 1987 when there was intense land clearing
by fire in Brazil's Amazon, more than 1.2 million metric tons of carbon are
believed to have been released.
To save our remaining forests we have to learn three important
principles: Reduce, reuse, recycle, i.e., lower the consumption of paper and
paper products. Some examples are getting off junk mail lists, writing