Deforestation means ‘large scale cutting of trees and forests’.
Currently, the world is witnessing massive deforestation across the globe. Though, there are multiple reasons behind deforestation. The growing need for fuel, space, raw material, livelihood, etc. is resulting in ongoing deforestation.
Although, the advantages of trees and forests are undisputed; yet, when it comes to deforestation, many eyebrows are raised. What are the benefits that humans accrue by cutting trees? Is it the fact that the pros of deforestation outweigh its cons that lead to deforestation?
We will look into this in this write-up. We will discuss the prominent pros (advantages) and cons (disadvantages) of deforestation and we will analyze what outweighs what.
Let us first discuss the pros/advantages of deforestation.
Pros of Deforestation
Following are some prominent advantages that we obtain through deforestation or by cutting trees.
Source of Fuel
Forests are a great source of wood fuel. Mostly, people in village areas burn woods to obtain heat energy. This energy is either used to cook food, or to protect them from an intense cold atmosphere.
Thus, through deforestation and cutting of trees and woods, people obtain more renewable fuel to utilize in their daily life.
Wood is the human’s first-ever source of energy. Even today, it is providing around 6 percent of the global primary energy supply.
Deforestation provides more Land and Space
Word population is growing at a rapid pace at the rate of 1.1 percent per year. The growing population ultimately requires more food, more land for housing, and more industries. All these demands are being fulfilled via deforestation.
Deforestation results in the clearance of more land and space. That land can then be used for building houses for the growing population, setting up industries to fulfill their needs, or cultivate more food crops to meet their food requirement.
Reports show that around 80 percent of global deforestation is a result of agricultural production.
Food for Animals
Deforestation (clearing of uncultivated land) is mandatory for animal agriculture. With the growing population grows the demand for meat. As the demand for meat rises, so does the demand for cattle.
Thus, it requires more cleared space to make pastures for animal grazing. Hence, deforestation is the way to obtain lands and space for grazing fields for animals.
Studies show that millions of acres of uncultivated land are cleared to make room for feed crops and grazing pastures every year.
Provides Livelihood to Poor
Many poor people and farmers sell woods on their land to obtain a livelihood. In other words, the livelihood of most of the poor people is dependent on deforestation.
Hence, deforestation is mandatory for the sustenance and subsistence of multiple poor families in most developing countries. We can say that deforestation is sustaining the lives of poor people on Earth.
Deforestation provides Job Opportunities
To clear the land from forests, manpower is required. Thus, deforestation provides job opportunities for poor people.
As it requires skilled people to cut woods and trees, it creates jobs on large scales based on the fact that deforestation is being carried out on large scale.
Provides Raw Material for Goods
Forests provide woods that are used in making goods like furniture, cupboards, homes, bridges, carts, boards, boats, sports goods, etc.
Hence, deforestation is necessary for wood-based manufacturing. In other words, people who are attached to the profession of manufacturing from woods like carpenters are wholly dependent on deforestation.
So these were some prominent deforestation pros. Let us now discuss multiple cons/disadvantages of deforestation.
Cons of Deforestation
Almost the entire intelligentsia of the world is raising voices against and awareness on deforestation owing to its cons.
It is pertinent to discuss those adverse impacts of deforestation.
Global Warming and Climate Change
One of the major disadvantages of deforestation that is affecting the whole world today is global warming and climate change. Let us understand this phenomenon how all happens.
The increasing concentration of Greenhouse gases i.e. carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and water vapors in the atmosphere results in global warming. These gases are heat-trapping gases that trap heat energy coming from the sun; thus raise the atmospheric temperature and cause global warming/climate change.
As trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen; large-scale deforestation has disturbed the balance between gas released and gas absorbed. Thus, without trees, more and more carbon elements are released in the atmosphere from industries and motors, etc. ultimately causing climate change.
Moreover, climate change causes its own multiple adverse effects; i.e. droughts, floods, heatwaves, abnormal rain patterns, rising sea levels, water scarcity, and the resulting chaos in societies in the form of migration and health issues, etc.
Behind all this havoc is the single reason and that is the large-scale cutting of forests and trees.
Soil Erosion: Dust Storms & Land Sliding
It is the roots of trees that bind and keep the soil intact. Another disadvantage of deforestation is; it leads to soil erosion.
Without trees, soil cannot resist running water, flood, and storms. Thus, large-scale deforestation, when there are no roots to hold soil, leads to land sliding occurring during rain, and dust storms during heavy winds, etc.
Furthermore, during rain, due to erosion, soil washes into streams, lakes, rivers, etc. Thus, the increased sedimentation of soil into water bodies affects aquatic habitat and life. Also, the dust storm pollutes the atmosphere that causes multiple health issues too.
Destruction of the habitat of animals and birds
Forests are the natural habitat of animals and birds. The trees in the forests are home to the wildlife. Thus, by cutting forests and trees, we are destroying their natural habitat.
Even during the process of deforestation, many young animals and birds who cannot escape to save life die on the spot.
Without trees and forests, the wildlife is left with no home to go. Thus, they perforce have to migrate to find suitable habitat.
During migration, most of them become victims of their predators, and many die for natural reasons. Hence, it leads to the extinction of multiple animal and birds species.
Forests and trees play a vital role in controlling or preventing floods. Firstly, forests hold and absorb a great amount of groundwater. Secondly, the roots of trees (as discussed earlier) prevent sediment runoff during rain or running water.
Without trees and forests, there is no one to absorb/control running rainwater that ultimately takes the form of flood with large-scale sedimentation runoff. Thus, deforestation is the main reason behind floods.
Strong Winds and Storms
Forests and trees are naturally placed barriers that hinder the flow of strong winds and storms. By colliding with tree barriers, the speed of winds considerably die down.
In the case of deforestation, with no barriers in place for winds, intense winds and storms cause massive destruction to infrastructure in society, uproot electric poles, demolish houses, etc.
Air and Atmospheric Pollution
Trees serve as air purifiers that filter toxic chemicals, gases, and odors from the air and atmosphere. Thus, forests clean the atmosphere and make it healthy and ideal for life.
With deforestation and the reduction of trees, the number of toxic chemicals and pollutant gases in the atmosphere increase causing harm to animals and humans as well.
As discussed in the pros of deforestation; cutting trees is essential to gain benefits from woods in the form of fuel, raw material, earnings, etc; yet it does not outweigh the necessity to preserve trees and forests.
Deforestation has adverse impacts on the atmosphere and society as we have discussed under ‘Cons of Deforestation’.
It is upon this fact that multiple countries have taken the initiative to plant more trees. For example, the Pakistani government has set out to plant 10 billion trees by 2023.
Without trees, life is not possible on the planet Earth. Apart from providing oxygen (the basic necessity for life), trees serve us in multiple ways as discussed in detail above.
If we kept cutting trees without planting them, a day will come when there will be none left to obtain fuel, raw material, etc. from; nonetheless, till that time we will die due to lack of oxygen and suffocation.
Thus, there is a dire need to cut less and plant more trees to save the planet Earth and the life within.