Deforestation today, has become an issue of global importance, and if nothing is done about it, the environment will suffer from its effects.

Deforestation refers to the deliberate or accidental removal of a forest or stand of trees from land. Deforestation can also be seen as the felling (discriminately or indiscriminately) of trees.

Forests/trees are cut down today for the following reasons;

  1. To be used as building materials
  2. To be used as fuel
  3. To be used for the production of papers, match sticks, furniture, etc
  4. Cleared lands are used as pasture for livestock
  5. Cleared lands are used for building of houses, industries, etc, amongst others.

IMPORTANCE OF FORESTS/TREES TO THE ENVIRONMENT

Forests/trees are important to the Environment for, but not limited to, the following reasons;

  1. They provide us oxygen which we inhale
  2. They help in improving air quality
  3. They serve as habitats for animals
  4. They help in conserving biodiversity
  5. They help in absorbing greenhouse gases
  6. They help in preventing soil erosion
  7. They help in Climate Amelioration, etc.

EFFECTS OF DEFORESTATION

  1. LOSS OF BIODIVERSITY: Biodiversity refers to the variety of life, or different species of living things, living together in an environment. This includes plants, fungi, bacteria and animals living together. Deforestation results in decline in biodiversity. Forests serves as habitat for wildlife and some microorganisms. When these forests/trees are cut down, these wildlife and microorganisms that depend on the trees for habitation will go extinct.
  2. SOIL EROSION: Soil erosion refers to the wearing away of the soil’s top or upper layer. Plant litter cover provides protection from surface runoff. Deforestation reduces or decreases the amount of litter cover, thereby increasing the rate of soil erosion.
  3. INCREASE IN GLOBAL WARMING: Global warming (or Climate Change as used interchangeably) is the continuous increase in the average temperature of the earth’s climate. In the atmosphere, there is a belt of naturally occurring gases which helps in protecting the earth from direct ultraviolet radiation emitted by the sun. That belt is known as the Ozone Layer. Greenhouse gases emitted from the Environment contribute significantly in depleting the Ozone layer. As the Ozone layer gets depleted, inhabitants of the earth suffer from direct ultraviolet radiation from the sun. The forests/trees help in trapping these Greenhouse gases emitted from the Environment. When these forests/trees are cut down, there’ll be nothing to trap the gases, so they’ll gain access to the ozone layer, deplete it, and this will lead to the continuous increase in the average temperature of the earth’s climate.
  4. FLOODING: Flooding is the overflow of water that submerges dry land. The roots of trees help in absorbing and storing large amounts of water. In areas where there is usually heavy downpour, when trees are cut down, the soil loses its ability to retain water, thereby leading to flooding.
  5. DESERTIFICATION: Desertification refers to a type of land degradation whereby a relatively dry land region becomes increasingly arid, losing its bodies of water as well as vegetation and wildlife. Felling down of trees, amongst other activities, leads to desertification.
  6. DISRUPTION OF WATER CYCLE: Forests/trees transport large quantities of water into the atmosphere via plant transpiration. When deforestation occurs, the cycle will be disrupted.
  7. ECONOMIC LOSS: Due to deforestation, animals lose their habitats and vegetation is decreased. Economies of local communities that depend on these resources to drive their local markets and feed their families will suffer. Loss of these resources means a loss of profit.

The above listed, amongst others, are deleterious effects of deforestation on the Environment.

There is an all important need to STOP felling down of trees, in order to protect the Environment. Those who use trees as raw materials for some products must begin to think of alternatives.

Government must set regulations that will ban indiscriminate felling down of trees.

Let us conserve our forest reserves, and protect the Environment! We can conserve our forests through the following ways;

  1. Forests can be developed into tourist centres/national parks.
  2. Reforestation and afforestation must be encouraged. This means, if a tree MUST be brought down, another MUST be planted to replace it. This will help in Climate Amelioration, as Climate Change has become a Public Health emergency today.
  3. Forests must be protected from mining activities.
  4. Forests must also be protected from fire calamity. Though oftentimes natural, fire fighting techniques should be adopted, and equipments to curb such disaster in place.

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