We are now learning the consequences of trying to battle against nature, yet change is slow and we are still abusing the natural world. With our knowledge we should be doing all we can to stop further deforestation so why does deforestation continue despite the harm we know it does to the environment and thus ourselves?
The answers are not straightforward but undoubtedly lie with us and our desperate need for the resources the forest provides. The needs of a massive human population have to be met daily putting the natural world under enormous pressure. We constantly look for new ways to get what we need faster and more efficiently. But the more efficiently we exploit nature the quicker natural resources are used up and disappear. This leads to new ways of getting what we need or finding new resources to exploit depleting the natural world even faster, it’s a vicious cycle that leads to the devastation of our beautiful planet.
The Global Man Made Phenomenon
Man has bee clearing woodland since ancient times but it is recently in the last century that the worlds forests and rainforests have been dramatically reduced shrinking in size year on year at an ever more furious pace. Until fairly recently there was little real opposition from the public or government as the seemed to be no real viable alternatives and so it continues to this day.
Land is a finite commodity in a world with an ever-growing human population. Developed land is worth far more than forest so the forest is clear to make way for large-scale development and agriculture. Wood is unfortunately worth nothing standing growing in a forest but far more as a piece of paper, furniture or even a house. Profit driven by the high demand for these resources is the reason these forests are disappearing.
There are many resources which can be gathered from the forest such as food and medicines though the main product is wood which has a wide variety of uses from paper to a building material and even as a fuel. With lumber having such a number of uses and a strong demand then it should have a strong impact on economic growth. But forest values are actually falling, a surprising trend given that forests are fast disappearing and man’s propensity towards exploiting limited resources for profit.
Why Does Deforestation Result in Devastation?
Experts don’t see deforestation as an all-bad thing as long as it is done in an environmentally sensitive and sustainable way. It is a matter of careful controlling how and where you clear areas of forest. A small area of clearing provides opportunities for opportunistic species and is quickly recolonized and breaks in the canopy quickly filled.
Large areas take longer to recolonise and separate areas of forest previously joined. They also allow the wind and rain to erode the soil making recolonization by forest plants much harder. Rain forests typically have very thin soil which is held in place by the roots of the giant trees and with out which quickly disappears.
Wildlife that lives in the forest cannot survive in the open and so has to retreat with the forest or if it cannot die. Under the canopy is a moist dank warm environment as the plants trap the heat and moisture from escaping, without these very specific conditions, which exist in few other places many species are unable to survive.
So who is the culprit? You we all play a part in deforestation to a lesser or greater degree though the choices we make when shopping daily. We can’t point the blame solely on governments and big corporations though they certainly play a big part but it is our willingness to block out the knowledge of where the things we buy come from and how they are produced that means they can carry on destroying the earth and it is unlikely to stop until we make it with our consumer choices.