What is deforestation?
Humans need increasing more land and resources. Trees are cleared to make way for large-scale agriculture and subsistence farming, to build mines and their infrastructure, or to expand our cities with more housing. Forest-destroying wildfires are increasing in both number and severity each year, in many countries around the world. And although a huge number of trees are logged to be used in paper products, packaging, furniture and construction, not all of them are replanted.
When a forest is destroyed permanently, that’s deforestation.
The impacts of deforestation
While it is easy to understand the driving causes of deforestation, it can be harder to recognize and explain the impacts. How does deforestation affect us right now? What about in the future?
Most impacts are complex and interrelated, and continuously drive the destructive cycle of deforestation.
Animal and plant extinction
80% of the world’s animal population live in or rely on forests for survival, including us humans! The loss of large forests in Asia, Africa, and South America is driving many endangered species towards extinction, including orangutans, pandas, rhinos, Asian elephants, bonobos. This is not just a problem in completely deforested areas, but also where habitats are divided and fragmented by roads, railways, power lines and other infrastructure.
Some organizations have estimated that up to 50,000 species of plants and animals are going extinct each year, that’s 137 every day. When you think about the fact that many useful new medications are sources from newly discovered animals and plants in these regions, the impact of deforestation is multiplied. Plant and animal extinctions caused by the loss of forests now, limit advancements in medicine for all future generations.
Reduced air quality
Trees filter the planet’s air – they take carbon dioxide and turn it into oxygen. Greenhouse gas emissions increase when there are fewer trees and this drives global warming. Forests also help to reduce pollution, especially dust pollution.
Some of the causes of deforestation are particularly bad for air quality. Wildfires release a lot of carbon and pollution into our atmosphere, which contributes to global warming. Construction projects release both contaminants and dust into the air, which has more of an impact when there are fewer trees in and around communities.
We need clean and plentiful water to survive. But this is put at risk by deforestation.
Intensively farmed crops in deforested areas, like soy and palm oil, require heavy fertilizers. The run-off from cattle ranches, the waste from mining and construction projects, all of these contaminate the local waterways.
Extensive irrigation of both agricultural and community crops lowers the water tables, increases salinity and may worsen droughts, leading to desertification. This increases the likeliness of severe floods, which leads to further water pollution.
Larger floods and more severe water pollution make it all the way into our oceans, taking with them the rubbish and contaminants and spreading them around the world. Water quality issues caused by deforestation is not just a local problem.
Tree roots hold the soil together and soak up rainfall. Deforested areas are more prone to flooding, which can cause large and deadly landslides, especially when they happen in urban areas. But that’s not all.
Without the treetops, the soil heats up more under the sun, which contributes to both local and global climate change. This results in increasingly heavy rains and severe storms, leading to more flooding, more wildfires from lightning strikes, more soil erosion and more pollution.
People in poverty
Poverty is both a clear cause and an obvious result of deforestation. Poor, growing communities in poverty-stricken countries in Africa, Asia, and South America require space to grow food, so they clear the surrounding land of trees for their community crops. This subsistence farming is the leading cause of deforestation, worldwide.
The loss of these trees reduces the air and water quality in these communities which increases illness and medical costs. It increases soil erosion which causes floods and landslides, both deadly and drivers of poverty and homelessness. The combination of reduced water quality, increased salinity, and soil erosion makes it harder to grow enough food for the community, which means more trees are cut down for farmlands and irrigation is again increased. And the cycle continues.
By helping poor communities reduce the impacts of poverty, your help is two-fold: You help both the people and the forests around them.
Reduce the impacts of deforestation
At Givero, we have made it as easy as possible for you to make a difference as you search on the web. We work with many good causes that support poor communities, strive to save endangered animals, reduce pollution and replant deforested areas. One of our important partners is Eden Reforestation Project.
Eden Reforestation Projects employ locals in poor communities to plant trees and rehabilitate their surrounding forests. This helps the communities both in the short term through employment and reducing poverty, and in the long term by regrowing forests.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has many initiatives focused on preserving wild, forested habitats for endangered animals, from local reforestation projects through to developing laws and regulations.
3 things you can do to help
- Plant trees while you search
Every time you search on Givero, you support good causes like Eden Reforestation Projects and the WWF. Plant trees while you search.
- Raise awareness of reforestation projects and the impact of deforestation
Explain to friends and family why it’s such an important issue and ask them to make simple changes like switching to Givero as your alternative to Google whenever they search. Help others care about deforestation, just like you do!
- Make some simple lifestyle changes to prevent deforestation
Opt for sustainable where possible and make a direct impact – products created from recycled paper, food grown using healthy and sustainable practices. Recycle paper products and avoid packaged food and goods that contain soy and bad palm oil. 6 tips to help stop deforestation