News ID: 215380
Published: 0635 GMT May 20, 2018

Why is deforestation happening and why are rainforests important?

Why is deforestation happening and why are rainforests important?
metro.co.uk
This river in French Guyana has been polluted by clandestine gold mining.

Rainforests are something the world cannot afford to take for granted any longer. These precious environments, found in numerous continents, are homes to swathes of endangered species as well as indigenous tribes. But deforestation, caused by industry, has wiped out an insanely large proportion of them in recent years. What causes deforestation? What effect is it having on our planet and the beings that occupy it?

Between 2000 and 2012, 2.3 million square kilometers of forests around the world were cut down. That has led to the devastation of several species of animal, flora, fauna and homes of indigenous tribes, according to metro.co.uk.

This rate of deforestation is not slowing down despite international attempts to stop the causes of deforestation in its tracks. But the number of causes of deforestation make it difficult to tackle.

Currently the palm oil industry is one of the worst offenders, as the tree which produces the oil thrives best in Africa, Indonesia, Asia, North America and South America where rainforests tends to be.

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), every hour an area of rainforest the size of 300 football fields is cleared to make way for palm oil trees to be grown, which is mind-boggling.

The toxic gas released when timber is burned to make way for the palm oil farms has made Indonesia the world’s third-highest greenhouse gas emitter.

You can start avoiding palm oil as much as possible in products by checking if brands use non-deforestation oil using this WWF site.

Other causes of deforestation include illegal logging, mining for metals, poaching (which becomes more prevalent when industry is involved in deforestation), fuelwood harvesting, forest fires and climate change, plus the creation of plantations, roads and infrastructure.

Deforestation was even used as a military tactic by Americans in the Vietnam War, with a pesticide and defoliant being sprayed on areas of forest to clear them and expose the enemy. This destruction of forests, which covers less than 30 percent of the planet, has grave consequences for us all.

The removal of trees without sufficient reforestation has resulted in habitat damage, biodiversity loss, and aridity.

In 10 years the orangutan population is due to die out as a result of their habitat being decimated, and plenty more species are in danger.

The chopping down and burning of trees in masse has adverse impacts on the natural capture and storage of carbon dioxide.

Deforestation contributes to global warming this way. The more that happens the more dry the forests become, and the more vulnerable they are to forest fires that wipe them out entirely.

World leaders need to do more to ensure that our remaining rainforests are preserved.

Currently the Leuser Park in Indonesia is one of the only sites where animals like the orangutan can live safely and thrive without threat of having their treetop home town to the ground.

 

   
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