The Unsettling Effects Of Deforestation

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It is a common misconception that deforestation is a recent occurrence, gaining momentum in the 1960s. Its history stretches far back into the corridors of time when humans first occupied the Earth, approximately half-a-million years ago. Deforestation directly correlates with human development; the first account of it recorded in history dating all the way to 5000 B.C.. During this time, trees were used for shelter, fuel, building, and agricultural purposes, all necessary means for survival. Over the next several millennia as civilization evolved, the demand for trees and natural resources increased rapidly. In the space of less than 100 years, between the 18th and 19th centuries, first Britain, then several other countries completely transformed…show more content…
Eighty percent of Earth’s land animals and plants live in forests, and many cannot survive the deforestation that destroys their homes. It is estimated that we are losing 137 plant, animal, and insect species every day which equates to 50,000 species a year (National Geographic). Orangutans, giant pandas, rhinos, and the Asian elephant are just a few of hundreds of endangered species due to deforestation. Removing trees thins the forest canopy which is meant to block sun rays during the day and holds in the heat at night. This damaging disruption leads to extreme temperature swings that are harmful to plants and animals. Many animals, insects, and plants lose their habitats and may become endangered and even go extinct. Though a few species are killed directly in forest clearances, many will face a slower death sentence due to a lack of food and breeding rates decline. Because of water pollution from mining operations and agricultural runoff the giant otter is now endangered. A recent study of the Brazilian Amazon predicts that up to 90% of extinctions will occur in the next 40 years (WWF). One of the most dangerous and unsettling effects of deforestation is the loss of animal and plant species due to their loss of habitat. It was estimated in 2003, 70% of Earth’s land animals and plants live in forests, and many cannot survive the…show more content…
Terrestrially speaking, it is also the most biodiverse country on Earth, with more than 56,000 described species of plants, 1,700 species of birds, 695 amphibians, 578 mammals, and 651 reptiles (Butler 9). The bulk of Brazil 's forest cover is found in the Amazon Basin, a mosaic of ecosystems and vegetation types. This region has experienced an exceptional extent of forest loss over the past two generations—an area exceeding 760,000 square kilometers, or about 19 percent of its total surface area of 4,005,082 square kilometers, has been cleared in the Amazon since 1970, when only 2.4 percent of the Amazon 's forests had been lost (WWF). The increase in Amazon deforestation in the early 1970s coincided with the construction of the Trans-Amazonian Highway, which opened large forest areas to development by settlers and commercial interests. In more recent years, growing populations in the Amazon region, combined with increased viability of agricultural operations, have caused a further rise in deforestation rates. Vietnam’s forests, significantly damaged by war, have now been degraded or destroyed by logging and agricultural land clearance to the point where there is almost no untouched primary forest left. And the wider Greater Mekong region is predicted to be one of the world’s hottest “deforestation fronts” over the next 15 years if nothing is done.
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