• A Glance at Deforestation
A Glance at Deforestation
By June Narber Harrison
Forests are among Earths most important ecosystems. What many people do not realize, is that many of Earths ecosystems are inter-related. The oxygen in the atmosphere, the waters of the ocean, and the living plants and trees interplay on each other to sustain their cycles, keeping their internal living creatures fed and alive. When one element is altered in any ecosystem, all others have the potential of being affected.
If toxic chemicals are sprayed on crops, they seem into ground water (and then drank by humans, and absorbed into surrounding flora). Animals then eat the crops in turn, being eaten by humans. Any way it is looked at, the toxic chemicals end up in our own cell structure. Many of the cancers and illnesses we face today can be linked to pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides.
The forests of earth are complex in their composition. The rain forests of Brazil offer the most lush and varied flora and fauna to be found anywhere in the world today. However, it is being deforested at an alarming rate. When large parts of a forest are cut down, without careful planning, many other internal microecosystems are disrupted.
What Causes Deforestation?
Deforestation is caused by over cutting of the trees by large timber companies; slash and burn (called swidden horticulture) cultivation of native peoples (this is found today in many developing nations). Commercial development is the leading world wide cause (mineral and oil exploration; burning down of huge forest areas for cattle production; and urban development, infrastructure development such as roads; Deforestation is a result of careless planning and not taking necessary precautions to protect the forests to guarantee their survival as a resource for future generations.
Can the worlds forests survive the intrusion of man? As Christians, we can rationalize that God gave us the world to rule over. However, with rulership, comes great responsibility to do it properly. Mankind was made the husbandman of the earth. That did not give him license to kill and destroy recklessly. With the earths population doubling every nearly every twenty years, we have to realize that means more mouths to feed and more natural resources will be used up. The earth can only produce so much wood and other products per generation. What if the need and usage outweighs the production? What if so much of earths forests are cut for fuel and by-products, that not enough trees are left or replanted to replenish the forests for the next generation? That is exactly what is now happening.
Without the forests, especially the tropical rain forests, the oxygen levels of the world could not exist! The ozone layer and other ecosystems of earth are directly affected by the health of the worlds forests. Only during the last decade have scientists began to view the different ecosystems of Earth as part of a giant whole. Prior, they thought of each ecosystem existing apart from the others. However, with the devastating effects that needless pollution, ozone layer depletion and other chronic manifestations of a sick planet. Scientists finally began to realize that the oceans, atmosphere, land and forests ecosystems interact with each other to produce the oxygen and nutrient rich planet that we call home. We have to remember that God created a balance in the Earths natural cycles. When we pollute and destroy, we are upsetting the structure God ordained. In turn, we will have to face the physical consequences. Among these many consequences are chronic worldwide pollution, new deadly disease strains, reduced crops, changed weather patterns, and altered ecosystem biodiversity.
Consequences of deforestation
In economic terms, the tropical forests that are destroyed worldwide represent a loss in forest capital of 45 billion US dollars. By destroying forests, all potential future revenues and future employment derived from their sustainable management for timber and non-timber products vanish. Biodiversity (the variety of different animal and plant species) is also severely reduced. In many cases, the actual extinction of thousands of varieties of plants and animals is a result (many of which never have been scientifically classified or studied yet!) Estimates put the annual average of loss of biodiversity at 50,000 separate species (including flora and fauna).
Youve probably heard of global warming. There is debate over this theory, but the evidence is that the polar caps are getting warmer, and world temperatures are shifting. The worlds ocean temperatures are rising. What does this all mean? Global warming influences the world weather conditions. This leads to droughts in one part of the world and severe flooding in other. In turn, famine from ruined crops. It has been proven that deforestation is a leading cause in global warming, however, not a sole or only cause. The principal cause of global warming is the discharges from burning fossilized fuels from the developed countries.
Another thing to consider is that deforestation causes soil erosion (increasing its compaction where crops cannot grow therein, leeching out of its nutrients, increasing the aluminum toxicity of the soil). This leads to soil marginal for crop production.
With less forests, and more demand for its products (mainly timber and fuel-wood), the result is a shortage of a needed human resource.
Points to Ponder:
Realize that deforestation is a really serious problem and that it need immediate and international directed attention. No matter how long we have before the return of Christ to rule all nations, we have to live on the planet and we want it to be as fruitful and beautiful as we, and our forefathers have enjoyed.
Region Main agents of deforestation
Asia - Oceania
Latin America and Caribbean
(source: adapted from: FAO 1997; World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development 1998; ** adapted from FAO 1997)
Copyright © 2010 June Narber, All Rights Reserved.