Stop Deforestation or Be Ready to Face Brutal Repercussion.


-Mukesh Dangi

Have you ever imagined your life without forest? In general imagination of this situation is not uncommon. Due to technological dominancy, rapid urbanization and modern life style, people don’t find any connection between their life and the forest. In fact, in many ways our life is linked with the forest. The first home of human beings was forest, and it was the source of food and shelter for them. Currently, however, as the civilization is about to cross its limit of imagination, the rate of deforestation is also about to cross our limit of imagination. According to Goudie, A.S. & Cufi, D.J (2007) in Encyclopedia of Global Change in 2007 the thirty percent of the land is covered with forest and the rate of deforestation is 0.3 percent per year. Surprisingly, the rate of deforestation is high in the recent times of the history, as the ninety percent of the deforestation occurred since 1970 (2007). The rate is very high in economically less developed countries, especially they are undergoing civil war and facing armed conflict and political instability. Bangladesh, for instance, a small developing country of South Asia, is in political volatility for many decades, lost at least 35% of the mangrove forest in two decades that loss exceeds the destruction of tropical rain forest and coral reefs, the two well known threatened to environment during the same period (Valiela, Bowen & York , 2009). Smugglers take the advantage of weak governance and impunity to clear the government- own forest illegally in such nations. Not only in south Asia, but all around the developing world the rate of deforestation is alarming. Deforestation is a good example of, “Act locally, Impact globally.” The primary victims of clearance are the local community, whose livelihood is relied on forest. Secondary impact is on environment, and it is long term. Because of share of common sky, its impacts are global. Due to high rate of deforestation, the world is facing a numbers of crises. We have a challenge to ensure the right of intergeneration equity, and question on the continuity of human race. So, it has become very urgent for global community to put its effort on forest conservation to ensure the protection of culture and livelihood of the millions of people, to safeguard the global environment, and biodiversity survives.
Most importantly life of the millions of people is directly linked with the forest. This is t he source of income and employment. In general the forest functions can be summarized in two classes, production and protection, although the utilities of forest are numerous. The forest’s services vary depending on the location, characteristic of forest, and timeline. The former focuses on the production of timber and variety of minor commodities, while the latter function is emphasized on the environmental services resulting from the conservation of forest. The world forest is the biggest source of industrial raw materials. Directly the industries get saw logs, pulp woods, veneer logs, fuel woods, and charcoal from the forest. Production of timber and fuel wood dominates any type of use of the forest.
In addition to industrial values, many wild plants and animals are the sources of medicine. Harvey says the rain forest, one of the largest forest ecosystems in the world, is the source of 70 % of drugs used for the treatment of cancer in addition to drugs used for other medical illness (2002). Rapid destruction of forest has been a concern of many scientists. They always fear about wipe-outs of the entire species of plants before their values as medicine can be determined (2002). Additionally, Brazilian Amazon deforestation has diminished the availability of medical plant species, where nine of the twelve top selling medically important species are native to the Amazon, and five of the top-selling species have begun to be harvested for timber that causes the shortage of barks and oils for medicinal purposes (Shanley, Patricia Luz, &,Leda, 2003) .
Furthermore, people of developing countries, under common property ownership, get food, fodders and fibers from the forest. They consume most of the products locally, and never enter into the market. The community gathers honey, nuts, fruits, and berries. They hunt animals and fish for their living. Further they get utensils, weapons and fuel from the forest. According to the World Bank. Sustaining Forests: A Development Strategy (2004), “Forest resources directly support the livelihoods of 90% of the 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty and are home to nearly 90% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity.”, (The Little REDD + Book, 2009, pp 12). So, high rate of deforestation always put the livelihood of those at stake, thereby jeopardizing the global aim of alleviating poverty.
Another direct effect of deforestation is on the life and culture of forest dweller native tribes. The invasion of traders endangers the life and culture of the indigenous tribe. It compels them to give up their culture and tradition. According to S. Sebastiao, the culture and tradition of some of the tribes is about to become extinct by the invasion of cattle ranchers, diamond and gold miners, and timber merchants. The Yanonmami, Maxuci, and Marubo, the three Brazilian Indian tribes, are losing many of their cultures, traditions and customs; many of them have already given up their traditional ways of dressing and started to wear jeans and t-shirts (2002). They buy their foods from local military bases instead of hunting and fishing. More interestingly, prostitution, weapon bartering, and foreign diseases have been very alarming in this once secluded land (S. Sebastiao, 2002). In short, due to deforestation the livelihood, culture, and tradition of a considerable number of poor people is under immense pressure, demanding the prompt action on conservation.
In addition to supporting livelihood and cultural importance, the forest provides environmental services. Forests can be taken as the “lung” of the living earth system. A tree naturally synthesizes oxygen from carbon dioxide through the process of photosynthesis. The WWF/World Bank Forest Alliance Brazil claims that the Amazon Rain Forest converts about 1 trillion tons of carbon dioxide into oxygen (Devadas). Furthermore, Mullen & Leslie explain the Amazon also absorbs the sun’s excess energy and lowers the risk of thunder storms. Mullen has given an example of experience of longtime residents of Atlanta. Along with the explosive rate of urban development, they have started to notice early morning severe thunderstorms and rainstorms that lasted until noon. The asphalt, which is replacing vegetation around Atlanta, stores heat and releases it at night. This makes night as hot as day, causing early morning severe thunderstorms that usually occur during long hot days (2002). Usually the hotter surfaces are the focal point of convection thunderstorms and replacement of vegetation with concrete towers create the favorable environment for thunderstorm severity. Therefore, to get the ample supply of oxygen and to be protected from severe thunderstorms, we need to put our effort on forest conservation.
On the other hand, forests are a huge reservoir of carbon. Trees and other vegetations play important roles in the global carbon cycle. A growing forest actively sequesters the carbon and locks it up in the form of biomass. This is the natural process whereby vegetations remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Large volumes of carbon are also locked up in the soil of the forest ecosystem. The total volume of carbon locked up in forests is currently greater than that held in the atmosphere (Stern, 2006). Baumert, K.A., et.al.(2005) says the carbon dioxide contained in the earth vegetation and soil is almost equivalent to 7500 gigatons , which is greater than all the carbon contained in the remaining oil stocks and more than double the amount of carbon in the atmosphere ( Stern, 2006). The good news is that the forest removes large volume of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and stores it in the form of biomass, and provides oxygen to breathe. In contrast, the bad news is that deforestation is the second leading emitter of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere next to burning of fossil fuel for energy consumption. When the forest of a particular place is cleared, large volumes of carbon dioxide go into the atmosphere thereby affecting the carbon concentration and the climate. According to Encyclopedia of Global Change by Goudie, A.S. & Cufi, D.J (2007), during the process of deforestation carbon dioxide is released in the atmosphere by burning and rotting, while it has more severe after effects. First, there is no forest to grow and absorb the carbon dioxide; that obviously allows more carbon to release in the atmosphere. Further, more deforestation in a particular place prevents the continuous use of forest products by forest communities. This causes the high demand of concrete, steel, and bricks in that particular community, thereby consuming far more fossil fuels during their manufacture and adding more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (2005). Additionally Encyclopedia of Global Change claims deforestation affects local climate patterns by reducing wind speed and allowing direct sun light to surface, leading to more dryness on the land. Large scale deforestation changes the global climate pattern by reducing humidity causing hotter days and colder nights thus changing rainfall, precipitation and wind patterns (2005). Thus forests regulate the global and local climate system and support the life system on the earth. Any irregularity in climate can cause massive extinction of species on earth, so to maintain climate we should not overlook the forest.
Besides balance of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere the world forests provides beauty to the planet earth due to their biological diversity, and makes a nation proud for having forest and greenery. It provides home to more than 90% of the discovered terrestrial species. The tropical rain forest which occupies only 6 to 7 per cent of the planet’s land surface is the fount of more than 50 % of the plant and animal species (Haisong, 2002). Clearing of forest directly affects the habitat, food, and disturbs the breeding ground of the larger animal. Nobody keeps record of the number of plant species, and micro organisms destroyed during the process of clearance. Without conservation efforts many of the plant and animal species are likely to be extinct from the planet, and that cannot be recreated. According to Nicholas Stern destroying of frontier forests in Brazil, Colombia and Indonesia that harbor the largest biodiversity in the world destroys the source of pharmaceuticals because 40-50% of drugs in the markets are originated from the natural products (2006). The commercial logging poses a threat to wildlife species that increase the harvest of wildlife by opening up remote forest area to increased hunting and consumption of wild meat. Harvard University professor Edward O. Wilson claims destruction of tropical rain forest drives to extinction of 50,000 species every year, “450 species” per day. Though Marco Morano argues on this number and says these estimates are only computer based (M. Marc, 2002). If this is true the world is going to lose its biological diversity by the end of this century because scientist has predicted the existence of 5 to 30 million species on earth among them 1,400,000 are identified and named. Whatever is the truth, this debate appeals the needs of prompt action on conservation to check the massive loss of the species form the planet.
Unanimously, their consumptive and environmental services make forests globally important resources, and inseparable part of human life. As a whole they are analogous to defense organs of earth against various environmental crises, and support the life and fortune of millions of people who are living under the extreme poverty. Additionally, willful adding of millions of tons of carbon dioxide by deforestation each day in the atmosphere is going to be the greatest problem for humanity that ever have faced, in the form of global warming and climate change. Count down has already begun for the last moment that people can see forest on the planet. This not only endangers the existence of the floras and faunas on the surface, but it also raises the question over the continuity of intelligent human genome. With the rapid destruction of forest, the global aim of limiting carbon dioxide is going to be sturdy day by day. Thousands of species are losing their natural habitat, and same numbers of species are on the verge of extinction prior to being discovered and named. Nothing in the planet is untouched by the aftermath of unprecedented forest degradation; human kinds can’t be an exception. We will face more due to our high dependency on the forest’s bounty. We have two options: either take action now, or let it go and let the generation to come face the brutal repercussion.
References
Goudie, A.S., Cufid, D.J. (Eds.), (2007). Encyclopedia of Global Change. Environmental Change and Human Society (Vol. 1, pp. 243-249). Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press, Inc.
Harvey, H. (Ed.). (2002). Introduction. Rain Forest. At Issue. San Diego, CA: Green Heaven Press, Inc.
Mathar, A.S. (1990). Global Forest Resource: The Forest Resource Base. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press Inc.
Salgado, S. (2002). Indigenous Tribes of the Rain Forest are in Danger. In Harvey, H. (Ed.). Rain Forest. At Issue. (pp 30-34). San Diego, CA: Green Heaven Press, Inc.
Shanley, Patricia Luz, Leda. (2003). The Impacts of Forest Degradation on Medicinal Plant Use and Implications for Health Care in Eastern Amazonia, BioScience,53(6),573.Retrievedfrom http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?vid=3&hid=7&sid=c6eb19e3-ffd4-4d3b-914e54fd55953243%40sessionmgr11&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=a9h&AN=9988982
Stern, N. (2006). The Economics of Climate Change. The Stern Review: Reversing Emission from Land Use Change. (pp. 603-621). Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press.
The Little REDD + Book, (2009). [PDF document] . (pp. 12) Retrieved from http://unfccc.int/files/methods_science/redd/application/pdf/the_little_redd_book_dec_08.pdf
Valiela, I., Bowen, J. L. York , J.K. (2009). Mangrove Forest: One of the World’s Major Threatened Tropical Environments. CALIBER, Journal of the University California Press, 51(10), 807-815. doi: 10.1641/0006-3568(2001)051[0807:MFOOTW]2.0.CO;2
Vittal, D. (2002). The Amazon Rain Forest is in Danger of Being Destroyed. In Harvey, H. (Ed.). Rain Forest. At Issue. (pp. 18-22). San Diego, CA: Green Heaven Press, Inc.

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Keeps Hope Keeps Working !!

Posted on March 26, 2010, in 1. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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