Deforestation, Environmental Effects and Hopes for Change.
“Take care of the earth and she will take care of you.” ~Author Unknown
The topic of going green and addressing environmental issues is ongoing, especially poignant and trending within this past decade. From pollution, to waste management and the earth’s drastically deteriorating resources, the amount of information and list of issues can be overwhelming. What is helping in healing the earth and regenerating resources are the positive and mindful everyday decisions on how we interact with the planet. As an example within the past thirty years Los Angeles has almost doubled in the amount of cars on the road, yet the amount of air pollution has declined by almost half and the hole in the ozone layer is not getting bigger but actually slowly decreasing in size. Though this is just a small piece of the puzzle, it shows hope and promise that positive change can take place.
Deforestation is another urgent environmental issue. Though the term is recognized and defined as the immense reduction of forests, it is more specifically defined as the logging or burning of trees in a forested area. Most of the trees cut/burned are used for fuel, building materials and to clear land for farming purposes. With natural resources being stripped faster than they can be replaced, we want to discuss the causes, consequences and some possible solutions to deforestation.
Causes – Statistics
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, deforestation can result from “a combination of population pressure and stagnating economic, social and technological conditions.” Wood from the trees, and farming land serve as an economical benefactor to many countries where alternate resources and land may not be readily available.
“According to the World Resources Institute, more than 80 percent of the Earth’s natural forests already have been destroyed” Since 1900, up to 90 percent of West Africa’s coastal rain forests have disappeared, and there is an alarming rate of deforestation in Brazil and Indonesia, which contain the world’s largest surviving regions of rain forest (National Geographic).
About one half of the forests that covered Earth are gone. Each year, another 16 million hectares disappear.” According to the World Resources Institute, only about 22% of the world’s original forests remain “intact”
Because 70% earth’s land animals and plants live in forests, deforestation affects the population and habitat conditions. Without rain forests, the rain cycle dramatically becomes affection with then in turns generates drought situations. Studies have shown that destruction of rain forests in West African countries as Nigeria, Ghana, and Cote d’Ivoire may have caused two decades of droughts in the interior of Africa, with attendant hardship and famine. (National Geographic)
In addition to the affects on animals and habitat, climate is also affected by carbon dioxide released by the burning of trees. Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane which are usually absorbed by trees, lead to global warming and drastic climate changes.
What Can We Do?
Reforestation – Plant trees. For every tree that is cut down, another tree should be planted. Trees are a great source for our oxygen and also help to absorb the carbon dioxide that humans and animals exhale. By reducing carbon dioxide, we are diminishing greenhouse gases; hence helping with global warming.
Humans should be able to control their own activities. We should seek a greener earth. “Major causes of tree loss and the expansion of deserts are stripping land of its natural cover for firewood and for growing crops, poor farming techniques, over-grazing, large-scale commercial logging, and depleting groundwater” (National Geographic).
As individuals, we should make more conscientious choices on what products to buy or what actions to take. Buying recycled products and consuming organic products is a good way to start.
How Does Bamboo Help
A way to slow deforestation is by planting bamboo. Because Bamboo is a fast growing plant, it can quickly replenish a forest stripped of timber. Environmental damage rate is increasing, overlogging and failure to replant causes soil erosion and eliminates wildlife habitat.
According to Ching Ong, water specialist at the International Center for Research in Agroforestry in Kenya, bamboo is a promising substitute for wood. Bamboo can grow 25 meters tall and 20 centimeters thick and can be grown all over the world with same qualities as timber. Bamboo can be harvested after 3 to 4 years and “then every year after that because it is a grass” as opposed to 5-20 years for traditional woods.
Based on the Hanoi-based Prosperity Initiative, a shift toward more bamboo production by small scale farmers in Vietnam could bring 750,000 people out of poverty by 2020. It could also help provide worldwide demand for timber as a building material (Ecoworldly). Agricultural efficiency – Bamboo is the fastest growing woody plant in the world, crop can be replenished quickly. Bamboo is also self-regenerating, this means that it rapidly regrows from the remaining rootstock. Bamboo could be used as a suitable replacement for timber as building material. It is extremely light weight and durable (Ecoworldly).
In addition because Bamboo has a wide spread root system and large canopy, it reduces rain run off which in turn aids in the reduction of soil erosion and maintains two times the amount of water in the watershed. Bamboo also consumes large amounts of nitrogen, which aids in the reduction of water pollution which comes from “excess nutrient uptake of waste water from manufacture, intensive livestock farming, and sewage treatment facilities.” (Meng Chang)
There is no doubt that we have a vast amount of changes and issues to address, but by making conscious decisions in our every day life and garnering the proper knowledge to make these choices, it has already shown effect that change is possible.