The loss of trees and other vegetation can have a devastating effect on the environment, leading to climate change, desertification, soil erosion, the decline of crops, floods, an increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and a series of problems for indigenous peoples. However, the risks of deforestation are even broader. Trees absorb and store carbon dioxide, and when they are cut down or altered, they release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Over the past century, forest cover around the world has been significantly compromised, leaving green cover at an all-time low of around 30 percent.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), approximately 18 million acres (7.3 million hectares) of forest are lost every year. The growing demand for food products is one of the main drivers of deforestation, with 33% of deforestation caused by agriculture due to subsistence farming. Livestock is also believed to be responsible for approximately 14% of global deforestation. Farmers often clear the land by felling trees and burning them to raise livestock and grow food.
They continue to use the property until the soil is completely degraded and then move on to new forests. Eventually, it will be reforested, but it will take many years to return to its original state. Surprisingly, over the past 40 years, forest area has shrunk by almost 40 percent and, over the same period, rangeland regions and livestock populations have grown significantly and rapidly. Some of the other factors that lead to deforestation are also partly natural and partly anthropogenic, such as desertification of the land due to abuse of the land which makes it unsuitable for tree growth.
Petrochemical industries dumping their waste into rivers can also cause soil erosion and make it unsuitable for growing plants and trees. Paper production is another major contributor to deforestation. According to the Environment Paper Network, the paper thrown away each year represents approximately 640 million trees. The United States, China, Canada and Japan account for more than the world's paper production, and that's 400 million tons a year.
If we recycle, we could prevent 27.5 million tons of carbon dioxide from reaching the atmosphere. We allow forests to continue to be a favorable ecosystem and habitat for wildlife if we use recycled paper. These events are dangerous and encourage greater deforestation. In addition, the loss of trees allows floods, soil erosion, desertification and higher temperatures to occur more rapidly and exponentially. It is estimated that deforestation is responsible for around 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and 1.5 billion tons of carbon are released into the atmosphere every year due to tropical deforestation. Without trees, erosion often occurs and land is washed away into nearby rivers and streams.
Forests serve as nature's water purification plants so soil erosion exposes soil to contaminants that seep into the water supply damaging its quality. Our world has lost countless species of plants and animals in the past two decades with a study of the Brazilian Amazon predicting that up to 90% of expected extinctions will occur within 40 years. The increase in levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere due to deforestation and burning of fossil fuels makes our oceans more acidic with beaches already 30 percent more acidic than before the Industrial Revolution posing an extreme risk to ocean species and ecosystems. Deforestation for food may lead to food insecurity in the future as currently 52% of all land used for food production is moderately or severely affected by soil erosion. In the long term a lack of fertile soil can lead to low yields and food insecurity. Deforestation has a negative impact on public health in several ways with fragmentation of wildlife habitat through forest clearing increasing spread of new wildlife pathogens to people. The loss of forests also risks losing potential future medicinal resources. By contributing to climate change such as floods deforestation increases risk of death especially for people in parts of world most vulnerable to extreme weather conditions.
When we lose forests we also lose source of more direct health benefits such as better mental & physical well-being & cleaner air. Not only does deforestation eliminate vegetation which is important for removing carbon dioxide from air but act of clearing forests also produces greenhouse gas emissions with nearly 500,000 hectares cut down every year just for growing soybeans most (77%) ending up as food for livestock. Another key form of action is supporting indigenous communities defending felling forests by companies through donations to relevant non-profit organizations or legal defense funds for indigenous activists. As forests also regulate water cycle logging them leads to drier local climates further increasing risk of desertification. Deforestation can include clearing land for agriculture or livestock or use wood as fuel construction or manufacturing & fires are natural phenomenon in some forest ecosystems & indigenous communities have also used sustainably controlled fires for centuries to clear small areas land for agriculture. Forests can also be restored by replanting trees in felled areas or simply allowing forest ecosystem regenerate over time but if current unsustainable land uses continue at good pace including felling forests for agriculture & exploitation other resources population growth will place greater pressure on forest ecosystems. Several studies link deforestation to malaria epidemics in South America since logging helps mosquitoes which are main vectors human diseases.