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The Consequences of Deforestation

Author: Ioannes Salamanes

Editors: Shamsia Ahmed and Liane Xu

Artist: Abhinaya Vijayanand

Deforestation is the clearing of trees through accidental, deliberate, or natural means. It is defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as the “permanent removal of standing forests.” About 18 million acres of forest are lost each year, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Deforestation can occur anywhere with densely populated trees, including the Amazon Rainforest in South America.

There are many causes of deforestation including overpopulation, agricultural activities, and illegal logging for materials. Deforestation has been happening for a long time, arguably since man switched from hunting to farming, but it has not become such a big issue until around 1950. Though some argue that nine-tenths of deforestation occurred before 1950, the rate of deforestation has greatly accelerated since, causing environments to become more sensitive and even irreversible damage.

The loss of trees causes harm not only to the environment itself, but it also affects animals including humans. Deforestation contributes to climate change and increases greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. It also causes flooding, soil erosion, and desertification which is the process of fertile land becoming desert. This means deforestation is leading to the loss of farmland, which causes hunger crises. In addition, deforestation poses many problems for indigenous people, including the loss of their homelands.

It is alarming that 70% of land plant and animal species live in forests. This means that much of our land species face the danger of extinction due to habitat loss as a result of deforestation. While it is a known fact that living things on Earth can adapt to their surroundings, it doesn’t mean that this can happen overnight. Deforestation is occurring too quickly which leads to the loss of many plants and animals (biodiversity loss). Biodiversity loss greatly affects ecosystems because each part of an ecosystem is interdependent on the other parts, and the loss of one species could have long-lasting consequences for other plants and animals. Wild forests, such as the Amazon, are beautiful and