The Info List - Deforestation

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DEFORESTATION, CLEARANCE or CLEARING is the removal of a forest or stand of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a non-forest use. Examples of deforestation include conversion of forestland to farms, ranches, or urban use. The most concentrated deforestation occurs in tropical rainforests . About 30% of Earth's land surface is covered by forests.

Deforestation occurs for multiple reasons: trees are cut down to be used for building or sold as fuel, (sometimes in the form of charcoal or timber), while cleared land is used as pasture for livestock and plantation. The removal of trees without sufficient reforestation has resulted in damage to habitat , biodiversity loss and aridity . It has adverse impacts on biosequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide . Deforestation has also been used in war to deprive the enemy of vital resources and cover for its forces. Modern examples of this were the use of Agent Orange by the British military in Malaya during the Malayan Emergency and the United States military in Vietnam during the Vietnam War . As of 2005, net deforestation rates have ceased to increase in countries with a per capita GDP of at least US$4,600. Deforested regions typically incur significant adverse soil erosion and frequently degrade into wasteland.

Disregard of ascribed value, lax forest management and deficient environmental laws are some of the factors that allow deforestation to occur on a large scale. In many countries, deforestation, both naturally occurring and human-induced, is an ongoing issue. Deforestation causes extinction , changes to climatic conditions, desertification , and displacement of populations as observed by current conditions and in the past through the fossil record. More than half of all plant and land animal species in the world live in tropical forests.

Between 2000 and 2012, 2.3 million square kilometres (890,000 square miles) of forests around the world were cut down. As a result of deforestation, only 6.2 million square kilometres (2.4 million square miles) remain of the original 16 million square kilometres (6 million square miles) of forest that formerly covered the Earth.


* 1 Causes

* 2 Environmental effects

* 2.1 Impacts on Atmosphere * 2.2 Hydrological * 2.3 Soil * 2.4 Biodiversity

* 3 Economic impact * 4 Forest transition theory

* 5 Historical causes

* 5.1 Prehistory * 5.2 Pre-industrial history

* 6 Industrial era

* 6.1 Rates of deforestation

* 6.1.1 Regions

* 7 Control

* 7.1 Reducing emissions

* 7.1.1 Payments for conserving forests

* 7.2 Land rights * 7.3 Farming * 7.4 Monitoring deforestation

* 7.5 Forest management

* 7.5.1 Sustainable practices

* 7.6 Reforestation * 7.7 Forest plantations

* 8 Military context * 9 Public health context * 10 See also * 11 References * 12 External links


According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat, the overwhelming direct cause of deforestation is agriculture. Subsistence farming is responsible for 48% of deforestation; commercial agriculture is responsible for 32%; logging is responsible for 14%, and fuel wood removals make up 5%.

Experts do not agree on whether industrial logging is an important contributor to global deforestation. Some argue that poor people are more likely to clear forest because they have no alternatives, others that the poor lack the ability to pay for the materials and labour needed to clear forest. One study found that population increases due to high fertility rates were a primary driver of tropical deforestation in only 8% of cases.

Other causes of contemporary deforestation may include corruption of government institutions, the inequitable distribution of wealth and power , population growth and overpopulation , and urbanization . Globalization is often viewed as another root cause of deforestation, though there are cases in which the impacts of globalization (new flows of labor, capital, commodities, and ideas) have promoted localized forest recovery. The last batch of sawnwood from the peat forest in Indragiri Hulu, Sumatra, Indonesia . Deforestation for oil palm plantation.

In 2000 the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) found that "the role of population dynamics in a local setting may vary from decisive to negligible," and that deforestation can result from "a combination of population pressure and stagnating economic, social and technological conditions."

The degradation of forest ecosystems has also been traced to economic incentives that make forest conversion appear more profitable than forest conservation. Many important forest functions have no markets, and hence, no economic value that is readily apparent to the forests' owners or the communities that rely on forests for their well-being. From the perspective of the developing world, the benefits of forest as carbon sinks or biodiversity reserves go primarily to richer developed nations and there is insufficient compensation for these services. Developing countries feel that some countries in the developed world, such as the United States of America, cut down their forests centuries ago and benefited economically from this deforestation, and that it is hypocritical to deny developing countries the same opportunities, i.e. that the poor shouldn't have to bear the cost of preservation when the rich created the problem.

Some commentators have noted a shift in the drivers of deforestation over the past 30 years. Whereas deforestation was primarily driven by subsistence activities and government-sponsored development projects like transmigration in countries like Indonesia and colonization in Latin America , India , Java , and so on, during the late 19th century and the earlier half of the 20th century, by the 1990s the majority of deforestation was caused by industrial factors, including extractive industries, large-scale cattle ranching, and extensive agriculture.



Illegal "slash-and-burn " practice in Madagascar , 2010

Deforestation is ongoing and is shaping climate and geography .

Deforestation is a contributor to global warming , and is often cited as one of the major causes of the enhanced greenhouse effect . Tropical deforestation is responsible for approximately 20% of world greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change deforestation, mainly in tropical areas, could account for up to one-third of total anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. But recent calculations suggest that carbon dioxide emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (excluding peatland emissions) contribute about 12% of total anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions with a range from 6 to 17%. Deforestation causes carbon dioxide to linger in the atmosphere. As carbon dioxide accrues, it produces a layer in the atmosphere that traps radiation from the sun. The radiation converts to heat which causes global warming, which is better known as the greenhouse effect. Plants remove carbon in the form of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during the process of photosynthesis , but release some carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere during normal respiration. Only when actively growing can a tree or forest remove carbon, by storing it in plant tissues. Both the decay and burning of wood releases much of this stored carbon back to the atmosphere. In order for forests it ifect to to take up carbon, there must be a net accumulation of wood. One way is for the wood to be harvested and turned into long-lived products, with new young trees replacing them. Deforestation may also cause carbon stores held in soil to be released. Forests can be either sinks or sources depending upon environmental circumstances. Mature forests alternate between being net sinks and net sources of carbon dioxide (see carbon dioxide sink and carbon cycle ).

In deforested areas, the land heats up faster and reaches a higher temperature, leading to localized upward motions that enhance the formation of clouds and ultimately produce more rainfall. However, according to the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, the models used to investigate remote responses to tropical deforestation showed a broad but mild temperature increase all through the tropical atmosphere. The model predicted and FAO's Global Forest Resource Assessments.

In evaluating implications of overall emissions reductions, countries of greatest concern are those categorized as High Forest Cover with High Rates of Deforestation (HFHD) and Low Forest Cover with High Rates of Deforestation (LFHD). Afghanistan, Benin, Botswana, Burma, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti , Honduras, Indonesia, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mongolia, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zimbabwe are listed as having Low Forest Cover with High Rates of Deforestation (LFHD). Brazil, Cambodia, Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, Equatorial Guinea, Malaysia, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Venezuela, Zambia are listed as High Forest Cover with High Rates of Deforestation (HFHD).

Payments For Conserving Forests

In Bolivia, deforestation in upper river basins has caused environmental problems, including soil erosion and declining water quality. An innovative project to try and remedy this situation involves landholders in upstream areas being paid by downstream water users to conserve forests. The landholders receive US$20 to conserve the trees, avoid polluting livestock practices, and enhance the biodiversity and forest carbon on their land. They also receive US$30, which purchases a beehive, to compensate for conservation for two hectares of water-sustaining forest for five years. Honey revenue per hectare of forest is US$5 per year, so within five years, the landholder has sold US$50 of honey. The project is being conducted by Fundación Natura Bolivia and Rare Conservation, with support from the Climate "> Transferring land rights to indigenous inhabitants is argued to efficiently conserve forests.

Transferring rights over land from public domain to its indigenous inhabitants is argued to be a cost effective strategy to conserve forests. This includes the protection of such rights entitled in existing laws, such as India’s Forest Rights Act . The transferring of such rights in China , perhaps the largest land reform in modern times, has been argued to have increased forest cover. In Brazil , forested areas given tenure to indigenous groups have even lower rates of clearing than national parks .


New methods are being developed to farm more intensively, such as high-yield hybrid crops, greenhouse , autonomous building gardens, and hydroponics . These methods are often dependent on chemical inputs to maintain necessary yields. In cyclic agriculture , cattle are grazed on farm land that is resting and rejuvenating. Cyclic agriculture actually increases the fertility of the soil. Intensive farming can also decrease soil nutrients by consuming at an accelerated rate the trace minerals needed for crop growth.The most promising approach, however, is the concept of food forests in permaculture , which consists of agroforestal systems carefully designed to mimic natural forests, with an emphasis on plant and animal species of interest for food, timber and other uses. These systems have low dependence on fossil fuels and agro-chemicals , are highly self-maintaining, highly productive, and with strong positive impact on soil and water quality, and biodiversity .


There are multiple methods that are appropriate and reliable for reducing and monitoring deforestation. One method is the “visual interpretation of aerial photos or satellite imagery that is labor-intensive but does not require high-level training in computer image processing or extensive computational resources”. Another method includes hot-spot analysis (that is, locations of rapid change) using expert opinion or coarse resolution satellite data to identify locations for detailed digital analysis with high resolution satellite images. Deforestation is typically assessed by quantifying the amount of area deforested, measured at the present time. From an environmental point of view, quantifying the damage and its possible consequences is a more important task, while conservation efforts are more focused on forested land protection and development of land-use alternatives to avoid continued deforestation. Deforestation rate and total area deforested, have been widely used for monitoring deforestation in many regions, including the Brazilian Amazon deforestation monitoring by INPE. A global satellite view is available.


Efforts to stop or slow deforestation have been attempted for many centuries because it has long been known that deforestation can cause environmental damage sufficient in some cases to cause societies to collapse. In Tonga , paramount rulers developed policies designed to prevent conflicts between short-term gains from converting forest to farmland and long-term problems forest loss would cause, while during the 17th and 18th centuries in Tokugawa , Japan, the shoguns developed a highly sophisticated system of long-term planning to stop and even reverse deforestation of the preceding centuries through substituting timber by other products and more efficient use of land that had been farmed for many centuries. In 16th-century Germany, landowners also developed silviculture to deal with the problem of deforestation. However, these policies tend to be limited to environments with _good rainfall_, _no dry season_ and _very young soils _ (through volcanism or glaciation ). This is because on older and less fertile soils trees grow too slowly for silviculture to be economic, whilst in areas with a strong dry season there is always a risk of forest fires destroying a tree crop before it matures.

In the areas where "slash-and-burn " is practiced, switching to "slash-and-char " would prevent the rapid deforestation and subsequent degradation of soils. The biochar thus created, given back to the soil, is not only a durable carbon sequestration method, but it also is an extremely beneficial amendment to the soil. Mixed with biomass it brings the creation of terra preta , one of the richest soils on the planet and the only one known to regenerate itself.

Sustainable Practices

Bamboo is advocated as a more sustainable alternative for cutting down wood for fuel.

Certification, as provided by global certification systems such as Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification and Forest Stewardship Council , contributes to tackling deforestation by creating market demand for timber from sustainably managed forests. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), "A major condition for the adoption of sustainable forest management is a demand for products that are produced sustainably and consumer willingness to pay for the higher costs entailed. Certification represents a shift from regulatory approaches to market incentives to promote sustainable forest management. By promoting the positive attributes of forest products from sustainably managed forests, certification focuses on the demand side of environmental conservation." Rainforest Rescue argues that the standards of organizations like FSC are too closely connected to timber industry interests and therefore do not guarantee environmentally and socially responsible forest management. In reality, monitoring systems are inadequate and various cases of fraud have been documented worldwide.

Some nations have taken steps to help increase the amount of trees on Earth. In 1981, China created National Tree Planting Day Forest and forest coverage had now reached 16.55% of China's land mass, as against only 12% two decades ago.

Using fuel from bamboo rather than wood results in cleaner burning, and since bamboo matures much faster than wood, deforestation is reduced as supply can be replenished faster.


Main article: Reforestation

In many parts of the world, especially in East Asian countries, reforestation and afforestation are increasing the area of forested lands. The amount of woodland has increased in 22 of the world's 50 most forested nations. Asia as a whole gained 1 million hectares of forest between 2000 and 2005. Tropical forest in El Salvador expanded more than 20% between 1992 and 2001. Based on these trends, one study projects that global forest will increase by 10%—an area the size of India—by 2050.

In the People\'s Republic of China , where large scale destruction of forests has occurred, the government has in the past required that every able-bodied citizen between the ages of 11 and 60 plant three to five trees per year or do the equivalent amount of work in other forest services. The government claims that at least 1 billion trees have been planted in China every year since 1982. This is no longer required today, but 12 March of every year in China is the Planting Holiday. Also, it has introduced the Green Wall of China project, which aims to halt the expansion of the Gobi desert through the planting of trees. However, due to the large percentage of trees dying off after planting (up to 75%), the project is not very successful. There has been a 47-million-hectare increase in forest area in China since the 1970s. The total number of trees amounted to be about 35 billion and 4.55% of China's land mass increased in forest coverage. The forest coverage was 12% two decades ago and now is 16.55%.

An ambitious proposal for China is the Aerially Delivered Re-forestation and Erosion Control System and the proposed Sahara Forest Project coupled with the Seawater Greenhouse .

In Western countries, increasing consumer demand for wood products that have been produced and harvested in a sustainable manner is causing forest landowners and forest industries to become increasingly accountable for their forest management and timber harvesting practices.

The Arbor Day Foundation 's Rain Forest Rescue program is a charity that helps to prevent deforestation. The charity uses donated money to buy up and preserve rainforest land before the lumber companies can buy it. The Arbor Day Foundation then protects the land from deforestation. This also locks in the way of life of the primitive tribes living on the forest land. Organizations such as Community Forestry International , Cool Earth , The Nature Conservancy , World Wide Fund for Nature , Conservation International , African Conservation Foundation and Greenpeace also focus on preserving forest habitats. Greenpeace in particular has also mapped out the forests that are still intact and published this information on the internet. World Resources Institute in turn has made a simpler thematic map showing the amount of forests present just before the age of man (8000 years ago) and the current (reduced) levels of forest. These maps mark the amount of afforestation required to repair the damage caused by people.


To meet the world's demand for wood, it has been suggested by forestry writers Botkins and Sedjo that high-yielding forest plantations are suitable. It has been calculated that plantations yielding 10 cubic meters per hectare annually could supply all the timber required for international trade on 5% of the world's existing forestland. By contrast, natural forests produce about 1–2 cubic meters per hectare; therefore, 5–10 times more forestland would be required to meet demand. Forester Chad Oliver has suggested a forest mosaic with high-yield forest lands interspersed with conservation land.

Globally, planted forests increased from 4.1% to 7.0% of the total forest area between 1990 and 2015. Plantation forests made up 280 million ha in 2015, an increase of about 40 million ha in the last ten years. Globally, planted forests consist of about 18% exotic or introduced species while the rest are species native to the country where they are planted. In South America, Oceania, and East and Southern Africa, planted forests are dominated by introduced species: 88%, 75% and 65%, respectively. In North America, West and Central Asia, and Europe the proportions of introduced species in plantations are much lower at 1%, 3% and 8% of the total area planted, respectively.

In the country of Senegal, on the western coast of Africa, a movement headed by youths has helped to plant over 6 million mangrove trees. The trees will protect local villages from storm damages and will provide a habitat for local wildlife. The project started in 2008, and already the Senegalese government has been asked to establish rules and regulations that would protect the new mangrove forests.


See also: Environmental impact of war American Sherman tanks knocked out by Japanese artillery on Okinawa.

While the preponderance of deforestation is due to demands for agricultural and urban use for the human population, there are some examples of military causes. One example of deliberate deforestation is that which took place in the U.S. zone of occupation in Germany after World War II. Before the onset of the Cold War , defeated Germany was still considered a potential future threat rather than potential future ally. To address this threat, attempts were made to lower German industrial potential , of which forests were deemed an element. Sources in the U.S. government admitted that the purpose of this was that the "ultimate destruction of the war potential of German forests." As a consequence of the practice of clear-felling, deforestation resulted which could "be replaced only by long forestry development over perhaps a century."

Deforestation can also be one consequence of war . For example, in the 1945 Battle of Okinawa , bombardment and other combat operations reduced the lush tropical landscape into "a vast field of mud, lead, decay and maggots". Deforestation can also be an intentional tactic of military forces . Defoliants (like Agent Orange or others) was used by the British in the Malayan Emergency , and by the United States in the Korean War and Vietnam War .


Deforestation eliminates a great number of species of plants and animals which also often results in an increase in disease. Loss of native species allows new species to come to dominance. Often the destruction of predatory species can result in an increase in rodent populations which can carry plague . Additionally, erosion can produce pools of stagnant water that are perfect breeding grounds for mosquitos, well known vectors of malaria , yellow fever , nipah virus , and more. Deforestation can also create a path for non-native species to flourish such as certain types of snails, which have been correlated with an increase in schistosomiasis cases.

Deforestation is occurring all over the world and has been coupled with an increase in the occurrence of disease outbreaks. In Malaysia , thousands of acres of forest have been cleared for pig farms. This has resulted in an increase in the zoonosis the Nipah virus. In Kenya , deforestation has led to an increase in malaria cases which is now the leading cause of morbidity and mortality the country. A 2017 study in the _American Economic Review _ found that deforestation substantially increased the incidence of malaria in Nigeria.

Another pathway through which deforestation affects disease is the relocation and dispersion of disease-carrying hosts. This disease emergence pathway can be called “range expansion ,” whereby the host’s range (and thereby the range of pathogens) expands to new geographic areas. Through deforestation, hosts and reservoir species are forced into neighboring habitats. Accompanying the reservoir species are pathogens that have the ability to find new hosts in previously unexposed regions. As these pathogens and species come into closer contact with humans, they are infected both directly and indirectly.

A catastrophic example of range expansion is the 1998 outbreak of Nipah virus in Malaysia. For a number of years, deforestation, drought, and subsequent fires led to a dramatic geographic shift and density of fruit bats , a reservoir for Nipah virus. Deforestation reduced the available fruiting trees in the bats’ habitat, and they encroached on surrounding orchards which also happened to be the location of a large number of pigsties. The bats, through proximity spread the Nipah to pigs. While the virus infected the pigs, mortality was much lower than among humans, making the pigs a virulent host leading to the transmission of the virus to humans. This resulted in 265 reported cases of encephalitis , of which 105 resulted in death. This example provides an important lesson for the impact deforestation can have on human health.

Another example of range expansion due to deforestation and other anthropogenic habitat impacts includes the Capybara rodent in Paraguay . This rodent is the host of a number of zoonotic diseases and, while there has not yet been a human-borne outbreak due to the movement of this rodent into new regions, it offers an example of how habitat destruction through deforestation and subsequent movements of species is occurring regularly.

A now well-developed theory is that the spread of HIV it is at least partially due deforestation. Rising populations created a food demand and with deforestation opening up new areas of the forest the hunters harvested a great deal of primate bushmeat, which is believed to be the origin of HIV.


* Assarting * Biochar * Clearcutting * Deforestation and climate change

* Deforestation by region

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* Deforestation during the Roman period * Desertification * Ecoforestry * Economic impact analysis * Environmental issues with paper * Environmental philosophy * Extinction * CDM -webkit-column-width: 30em; column-width: 30em; list-style-type: decimal;">

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