With the recent Uttarakhand Forest fires – forests and their importance has been splashed everywhere from newspapers to magazines and even your news channels. It is a very big cause for concern to even those not in the vicinity of the forest fires.

What is Deforestation? The permanent destruction of forests converting them to lands for other uses other than forest cover is Deforestation. Forests cover over 31% of the Earth’s surface and about 1,19,000 to 1,50,200 square kilometres of forests are destroyed annually. In about 50 years, 17% of the Amazon Rainforest has been lost.

What causes Deforestation? There are many causes for deforestation, here are the main reasons:

  1. The logging industry has strong sanctions against felling of trees thus causing them to turn to illegal means – such as causing forest fires.
  2. Growing populations and the need for space for us humans, has caused many forests to be destroyed for road and infrastructure building.
  3. Agricultural lands, especially in India, has caused farmers to raise forests to the grounds in an effort to get more agricultural space. Forest fires also cause the land to become a little more fertile and create a good crop.
  4. Cattle ranching is another industry that requires a lot of space and forests are cleared for this.

Why are Forest spaces important?

  1. About 50% of the Earth’s Plants and animals call rainforests home even though rainforests cover about 2% of the Earth’s total surface area. Many plants, insects and animals go extinct with deforestation.
  2. Destroying forest cover shrinks the habitat for wild animals, causing them to roam closer towards civilization. These animals end up destroying crops and livestock because food in the forests becomes scarce for them.
  3. In India, tribals rely of forests for their food, clothing, fresh water, medicine and shelter. About 1.6 Billion people in the world, rely on forests.
  4. Global carbon emissions are absorbed into the forests. Less forests mean, more global carbon emissions floating in the atmosphere. Indirectly responsible for global warming.
  5. Removing forest cover, has also caused more floods to occur. Deciduous forests, like in Uttarakhand, helped ease the water into the rivers at a measured pace allowing for towns and villages on the banks of the river to utilise the water. However, with no forests to slow the waters, the waters spread over the banks and cause floods damaging properties and lives.

What can you do? United States, Canada, Brazil, Indonesia, China, Russia and Dominican Republic of Congo are the 7 countries that cause about 60% of the Earth’s Deforestation. This is a concern that countries and governments have to actively participate in to pass stricter laws thus ensuring forests and the wildlife within are protected. Awareness has been at a minimum, however, because of the Uttarakhand forest fire, more information has come out. Forests fires are either caused intentionally or by the dry heat conditions.

  1. Increasing knowledge over the subject, raising awareness among you will help to a certain degree, ensuring that it is an important matter to discuss.
  2. Recycling furniture or any wooden goods. Reduce and recycle wood products whenever possible.
  3. Going paperless, recycling paper are also good ways to conserve forests

Remember – We cannot stop deforestation, however, we can HELP.

Sources: National Geographic, WWF, CustomMade

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