Deforestation: A major threat to our existence

According to National Geographic, trees worldwide produce roughly one-third (28%) of the oxygen in our atmosphere. Today, people prioritize their economy amongst other personal interests over a major source of oxygen, a source of life, which works as a motor for natural processes to be held; and sustainability to take place.

Deforestation will be defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “The decrease in forest areas across the world that are lost for other uses such as agricultural croplands, urbanization, logging or mining activities.” Trees are not only essential due to their oxygen production, but also because they provide food for humans and animals; they also reduce the amount of stormwater run-off, which minimizes erosion and pollution in our waterways, reducing the effects of flooding. Many species depend on trees to find shelter and reproduce. When deforestation occurs, species populations reduce as many are killed on the process; many are relocated as they lose their habitat, there is a crop loss, a food chain disruption, greenhouse gas emissions, soil erosion, desertification, flooding, and invasion to indigenous communities. The impact of deforestation has highly affected natural ecosystems, biodiversity, and the climate.

Human economic activities are majorly responsible since 1960. For instance, one and a half acres of forest are cut down every second, which is equivalent to 36 football fields every minute. If this rate continues, all rainforests on earth will disappear in less than 100 years according to data gathered from a global satellite survey in 2017. When forests are cleared or burnt, carbon is released into the atmosphere, as carbon dioxide. Averaged over 2017, global loss of tropical forests contributed about 4-8 billion tons of CO2 annually (8-10% of yearly human CO2 emissions). It is notorious that deforestation is undermining the sustainable development of planet earth and highly contributing towards climate change. It seems that the consequences haven’t been so evident for humans yet, being a factor explaining why we don’t treat this issue with the deserved severity.

On the other hand, not everyone ignores the issue. A minority of people promote reforestation, a viable and eco-friendly solution, which consists of the process of replanting an area with trees. It allows the accelerated development of forest structure, species composition, and canopy providing numerous benefits such as wildlife habitats, safe water, carbon sequestration, forested recreation opportunities, and maintenance of soil productivity. Furthermore, some governments have intervened to hinder deforestation. For example, Izabella Teixeira, Brazil’s Environment Minister announced the government’s fast action to reduce deforestation and carbon emissions led to the drop, by claiming she will continue with determination to reduce the illegal deforestation in the Amazon. Ivory Coast’s government implemented the ‘New Declaration of Policy for Forest Preservation, Rehabilitation and Extension” in May 2018, a new legislation that encourages reforestation and a significant reduction to the deforestation performed in their country.

Unfortunately, it is a small powerful fraction of society, such as some governments and other authorities, who care for the environment. This is because consequences are not yet severe enough on our lives for governments to notice and act upon, but will soon be, as these are exponentially destructive. The impact deforestation is having on this earth is shocking, it solely depends on us if we really want to permit a catastrophic and unfixable change, threatening the environment, our lives, and future generations.