Table of Contents
Important Facts 1
Historical Background 1-2
Background Law 2
Causes of Deforestation 2
The Green House Effect 2-3
Reducing Deforestation 3
Case Studies 3-4
Pros and Cons 4-5
Ninety percent of our trees, 300 - 900 years old, have been cut down. The remaining 10% is all we will ever have. Deforestation is a significant issue of our time and must be taken seriously if we want to protect our remaining forests. The definition of deforestation by the Random House Dictionary of the English Language is "to divest or clear of forests or trees" and we must stop deforestation to save our planet. My intent on writing this essay is to enlighten the reader about the facts on deforestation and to express my opinions about deforestation.
There are approximately 3 400 million hectares of forests in the world, nearly 25% of the world's land area. Close to 58% of the forests are found in the temperate/boreal regions and 42% in the tropics. For about a millennium, people have benefited from the forests. Forest products range from simple fuelwood and building poles to sophisticated natural medicines, and from high- tech wood based manufactures to paper products. Environmental benefits include water flow control, soil conservation, and atmospheric influences. Brazil's Amozonia contains half of the world's tropical rain forests. The forests cover a region 10 times the size of Texas. Only about 10% of Brazil's rain forests have been cut to date, but cutting goes on at an uncontrollable rate.
Since pre-agricultural times the world's forests have declined one fifth from 4 to 3 billion hectares. Temperate forests have lost 35% of their area, subtropical woody savannas and deciduous forests have lost 25% and ever-green forests which are now under the most pressure have lost the least area, 6%, because they were inaccessible and sparsely populated. Now with new technology, such as satellites systems, low altitude photography and side looking radar, scientists can now figure that the world is losing about 20.4 million hectares of tropical forests annually and if these figures are not reduced, we will lose all of our tropical forests in about 50 years. It has been suggested that the high deforestation rates are caused partly by the fact that the new surveys are more accurate and thus reveal old deforestation rates that have not been detected with older methods.
At first there was concern only among foresters about deforestation but now the public has created organizations such as Green Peace to help increase awareness and reduce deforestation. The Food and Agriculture Organization or F.A.O, has worked mainly within the forest community to find new and better ways to manage the forests. Also, in 1985 there was the introduction of the Tropical Forestry Action Plan or T.F.A.P. This plan involved the F.A.O, United Nations development programs, the World Bank, other development agencies, several tropical country governments, and several government organizations. Together they developed a new strategy. More than 60 countries have decided to prepare national forestry action plans to manage their forests.
Tropical deforestation has various direct causes: The permanent conversion of forests to agricultural land, logging, demand for fuelwood, forest fires and drought. Slash and burn clearing is the single greatest cause of tropical rain forest destruction world wide. Air pollution is also a major threat to the forests in the northern hemisphere and is expected to increase. Reduced growth, defoliation and eventual death occur in most affected forests. From 1850 to 1980 the greatest forest losses occurred in North America and...