Deforestation is the cutting down of trees for the purpose of converting the land to none forest use. Deforestation involves cutting down trees and stumps completely or partially for a variety of reasons. The major reason why people cut down trees is for fuel use whereby the cut down trees are used as a source of energy, a phenomenon that is very common in most developing countries.
Deforestation is carried out for agricultural purposes in that the deforested land is used for planting agricultural products or grazing. In this case, the cut down trees are burnt down which leads to the depreciation of the soil nutrients (Margulis, 2004).
Extraction of natural resources and construction of public amenities is another major reason as to why deforestation takes place. Large tracts of forest land are deforested to pave way for the extraction of mineral resources such as limestone, diamond, gold and all other sorts of minerals. Construction of roads, railway lines, buildings and dams are other reasons for deforestation.
Commercial logging is also another major cause for deforestation. In this case, the trees cut down are sawed into timber and pulp for various commercial uses ranging from construction to other industrial uses like raw material of making plain papers.
Deforestation has continued rapidly throughout the world regardless of the grave effects of this practice. Forests initially covered a quarter of the earth planet, but the encroachment of human activities leaving bare fields has continued to be a major threat to forests and has led to drastic reduction of the percentage of earth covered by forests.
According to Spilsbury, (2011), the percentage of land covered by forests has reduced drastically over a period of time. A good case study of this is Brazil where large tracks of Amazon rain forest have been destroyed due to logging.
In most developing countries, over 80% of the wood harvested is used for fuel purposes. Most of deforestation done for the purpose of fuel is done in dry forests where else deforestation for commercial reason is done in tropical rain forests. Wood fuel is preferred by rural and urban populations in developing countries because of its affordability and availability.
Most of the rural poor population residing near forests normally uses only wood fuel due to its proximity. In this case, the population cut down trees in the neighboring forests and uses them for cooking purposes. The urban population has contributed to deforestation whereby timber merchants cut down trees for the purpose of charcoal burning where they get their lucrative market in the urban areas.
One of the effects of deforestation felt globally is global warming. Global warming occurs as a result of deforestation as trees uses carbon dioxide during the photosynthesis process. Forests decrease leads to the increase of carbon dioxide in the environment which traps heat in the atmosphere leading to global warming. Other effects of deforestation include desertification due to lack of rains, environmental pollution as well as wildlife human conflict.
To curb deforestation, several measures need to be undertaken. This include reforestation, legislation to ban logging, recycling to cut down the use of forest products and protecting forested areas from human encroachment.
Another major measure which can be taken to stop deforestation is using alternative sources of fuel apart from wood fuel. Alternative fuel sources will drastically reduce the rate at which forests are being destructed. Governments across the world should adopt the use of bio gas, solar and wind energy as an alternative source of fuel energy (Miller, Vandome & McBrewster, 2009).
To generate bio gas energy, organic matter is broken down in absence of oxygen. This source of energy can be locally generated thus saving forests. In solar energy, the sun rays generate energy by heating the solar panels which converts the sun rays into a form of energy. Turbines are rotated at high-speed by wind to generate wind energy. All these forms of cheap and affordable sources of energy can be used and help reduce deforestation.
Spilsbury, R. (2011). Deforestation, Development or Destruction? New York: The Rosen Publishing Group.
Miller, F. P., Vandome, A. F and McBrewster, J. (2009). Wood Fuel. Saarbrucken: VDM Publishing House Ltd.
Margulis, S. (2004). Causes of deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon. World Bank working paper (Vol, 22). New York: World Bank Publications.