Importance of Forest
- Maintaining the biochemical cycle – carbon and nitrogen cycles, nutrient;
- Hydrological cycles – energy balance, water balance, climate balance and maintenance, sediment transport, erosion and runoff; and
- Ecological cycles – ecosystem health, biodiversity inclusive of fragmentation.
Hence the increasingly important need to stop deforestation, since it would bring about adverse changes to our planet Earth and by extension all living things.
Deforestation is the conversion of forested areas to non-forest land use such as logged areas, wasted lands and urban use, it also includes the long term reduction of tree canopy cover below the threshold of 10%. While forest degradation is a process leading to a temporary or permanent deterioration in the density or structure of vegetation cover or urs species composition.
The biggest negative consequence of deforestation is its contributing factor towards global warming, increasing drought and desertification, crop failure, melting of the polar ice cap, coastal flooding and displacement of major vegetation regimes. Since the forest acts as a natural sink for carbon dioxide and with the reduction of forest, the amount of carbon currently in the atmosphere is estimated about 800,000 million tonnes and increasing at a rate of about 1% annually.
Deforestation long term impacts leads to disruption of natural weather patterns causing hotter and drier weather, severing of soil resources through clearing vegetative cover for slash and burn farming, because it exposes the soil to the intensity of the tropical sun and torrential rains and dry forest zones leading to desertification.
It is estimated that by 2050, two billion or some 20% of the world population will suffer from water shortage, with the concentration of this being people living in developing and under developed countries. Water shortage poses major health risk through inadequate sewage disposal, poor personal hygiene and lack of portable water.
This would threaten the security of food as irrigated water becomes scarce and without the protection of tree cover soil are exposed to the rigors of severe tropical climates and are rapidly eroded. This would adversely alter freshwater and coastal marine life by the high sediments flowing into the river and would bring about decline in coastal coral reefs.
Strategies for reducing deforestation must go hand in hand with improving the welfare of the population or any policy developed would be inadequate and unsustainable.
Worth noting is that, there ate no general solution or strategy that would incorporate all regions and since the environment is constantly changing overtime, but all strategies require cooperation and goodwill, effective implementation is required and should include stakeholders participation, management plans and monitoring and enforcement.
This would serve two fold by illustrating to local government and central policy makers the importance of curbing deforestation and allow the empowerment of NGO’s and private organizations.
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Lal, Rattan (2001a). “World Cropland Soils as a Source or Sink for Atmospheric Carbon.” Advances in Agronomy 71:145–191.
Lal, Rattan (2001b). “Potential of Desertification Control to Sequester Soil Carbon and Mitigate the Greenhouse Effect.” Climate Change 15:35–72.
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