The Impact of Human Activity on Forests

The Impact of Human Activity on Forests

Forests cover thirty percent of the global land, but this has been on the decline due to human activity. At the advent of the 20th century, the forest cover was estimated to be 50 million square kilometers that has reduced to 40 million square kilometers in the present times (Visual Capitalist). The decline can be attributed to an increase in farming and growing demand for paper and wood products. The reduction in forest cover across the globe is not uniform and is dependent on the level of human activity in countries around the world. It follows that the global forest cover has declined by approximately 3.1 million square kilometers with most of the losses taking place in Sub-Saharan Africa and South America. Accordingly, individuals should take appropriate action to address deforestation by ensuring that their activities do not affect the forest cover thereby altering the ongoing environmental degradation.

The Amazon rainforest is of the critical carbon sinks that have faced growing pressure from human-made activities in the recent past (Aragão 536). While Brazil’s developing road network has been pivotal in economic development, the price of paid in the country’s landscape. Africa has also been faced with a high level of deforestation. For instance, studies have found that West Africa has lost ninety percent of its forest cover in the past decades. This can be attributed to illegal logging in protected areas that threatens reserves and parks. It can be noted that some regions such as Europe have seen extensive forest regeneration in the past century. On the other hand, China is the other country that has experienced growth in the forest cover.

Deforestation continues to be a significant environmental challenge that can be attributed to some economic and non-economic human activities. To start with, farming has been leading to being the principal activity that leads to deforestation. This is owing to the fact the population specifically in sub-Saharan Africa relies on farming (Visual Capitalist). Consequently, forest land that is considered to be fertile and uninhabited is cleared to pave the way for agriculture. Further, there are lax regulations that are set against deforestation in these countries. Implementation of these rules is dismally owing to the high levels of corruption and bribery paving the way for deforestation.

The second human activity that contributes to deforestation is logging. Timber and wood products have been demand over the past century. This is because wood is used as fuel and in the manufacture of paper. As a result, there has been widespread logging, particularly in the developing countries for income generation as most individuals live below the poverty line. This is closely linked to charcoal production that has led to massive deforestation in the sub-Saharan region (Gill). While there are clear rules against logging in countries across the globe, the stakeholders fail to implement them resulting in deforestation (Tritsch, Isabelle, and François-Michel 163). The third activity that causes deforestation is overgrazing. It follows that communities in developing economies rely on cattle grazing as a significant economic activity (Trumbore, Brando and Henrik 814). While the land that is appropriate for grazing has reduced over the years, communities have been forced to opt for pastures in forests resulting in deforestation. Palm oil production has also led to deforestation as it is a lucrative business in developing economies.

There is need to come up with appropriate strategies to address deforestation as it adverse impacts on the population have been experienced in terms of desertification, unpredictable weather patterns, global warming and a considerable decline in the universal forest cover. Countries should review their environmental standards and ensure proper implementation to address deforestation. Populations should be educated and empowered to protect their forests for the present and future generations (Visual Capitalist). It is through civic education and economic empowerment particularly in developing countries that communities can play a crucial role in fighting deforestation and mitigating the negative impacts it has on the environment. Collaboration among the stakeholders is also seen to be pivotal in addressing the human impact on forests.

While the activities that contribute to deforestation vary, they are often economic in nature. These include charcoal production, logging, obtaining palm oil and cattle farming as people in developing countries try to end poverty. However, it is expected that the per capita income in developing countries will improve leading to less deforestation. It can be noted that the Kuznets Curve model is best used to show the link between environmental degradation and economic development. In areas with a high population living in poverty, facing corruption and lenient laws, deforestation could continue to be a significant issue until the financial status of the community improves. Countries with an encouraging trend in forest cover in the present times include China, the US, Canada, Brazil, and Russia. Other countries are encouraged to use the strategies being used by these nations to maintain and increase their forest cover. Governments, citizens and other stakeholders should work in cohesion to fight against deforestation due to human activity increase forest cover with the aim of environmental conservation.


Works Cited

Aragão, Luiz EOC, et al. “21st Century drought-related fires counteract the decline of Amazon    deforestation carbon emissions.” Nature communications 9.1 (2018): 536.

Gill, Victoria. Amazon fires: Humans make rainforest more flammable. 29 Jun. 2016. Web. 25.     Feb. 2019.

Tritsch, Isabelle, and François-Michel Le Tourneau. “Population densities and deforestation in      the Brazilian Amazon: New insights on the current human settlement patterns.” Applied  geography 76 (2016): 163-172.

Trumbore, Susan, P. Brando, and Henrik Hartmann. “Forest health and global        change.” Science 349.6250 (2015): 814-818.

Visual Capitalist. The Human Impact on the World’s Forests. 25 Aug. 2018. Web. 25. Feb. 2019.

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