Why does deforestation occur and what are its effects?

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Deforestation occurs for a variety of reasons. These are some of the main causes of deforestation.

Countries require food and in order for food to be grown farms are necessary. In order to create space hundreds of acres of forest are cut down for each farm. 

Logging is another reason for deforestation. Logging can be very profitable and therefore hundreds of thousands of trees are cut down every year to be sold. Rarer trees fetch a higher market value and therefore they are targeted by loggers, which is reducing biodiversity and causing some species to become endangered.

Extraction of minerals is also another cause of deforestation. Quarries require a huge amount of area and due to the complete destruction of the land regrowth once the quarry has stopped being used is almost impossible. 

Hydropower requires large dams, which require a large amount of land to be flooded. Although this isn't directly cutting down the trees they are unable to survive whilst being flooded and therefore thousands die. The pollution that sometimes occurs in rivers can also poison the forest and cause the trees to die.

Finally, population pressure can cause deforestation, especially in areas where space is limited. 

 

The impacts of deforestation can be serious and wide reaching. The effects of deforestation vary with location and extent of deforestation.

Deforestation has a significant impact on the environment, the most dramatic of which is the loss of habitat for millions of species. Forests also play a vital role in the hydrological cycle. They protect the soil from drying out by protecting it from the sun and ensure water returns back to the atmosphere. Forests also absorb thousands of tons of CO2 every year and without them greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will increase, leading to increased global warming. Forests also reduce the impact of floods. Without them the impact of floods will increase significantly, as seen in Bangladesh.

Those that rely on forests for their livelihood and survival are finding it increasingly difficult to do so as more and more of their home is destroyed. This includes indigenous populations who use the forests for most aspect of their lives and people who rely on the tourist industry brought in by the forests such as the rainforests of Brazil. Deforestation reduces the natural beauty and therefore could threaten the tourism industry.

If the tourism industry is affected it can affect the economy of the country which can further impact any measures to reduce/ recover forests, further increasing the problem (a positive feedback loop). Increasing impacts of floods will also cost more to repair, and protection from floods doesn't come cheap. 

Sarah M. GCSE Geography tutor, A Level Geography tutor

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