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Human Impact on the Ecosystem

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Introduction

Human activity can impose far-reaching effects on an ecosystem. There is a potential conflict of interest between production and conservation. Deforestation occurs when the world's forests are chopped down, burned, or destroyed. This is done to clear land for agricultural purposes such as for grazing animals and growing crops but also for commercial logging purposes where the wood is sold as timber or pulp. This world wide problem occurs most often in tropical forests which are situated I relatively poor countries such as Brazil which hosts the Amazon rainforest. In 1995 Brazil had an international debt of $159 billion, in order to make the payments on this the logging industries contribute money made from selling pulp and valuable hardwoods such as mahogany. Also farming is the basic way of life for many of the Brazilians and for this they need land, which is in turn taken from the tropical forest. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) ...read more.

Middle

Selective logging is when only a selected number of the trees are cut down, although this destroys the habitat and affects large areas of forest it allows quicker regrowth as the surrounding trees can provide seeds and protect young trees from too much sun, (website 1) also as all of the trees aren't removed the soil structure remains and so do many of the nutrients. Clearcutting involves clearing the whole area, removing all of the trees and often burning the brush that's left. It is much more damaging to the forest as bare ground is left behind with very little regrowth.(website 1) The problems of deforestation are however spread much wider than the area of forest, which is cut down as logging uses heavy machinery such as bulldozers, road grazers and log skidders this machinery must be able to travel along roads to reach the area that is to be cut down meaning that many roads must also be made (website 1). ...read more.

Conclusion

50% of wood is carbon and when an area is cleared by the slash and burn method this carbon is oxidised to become carbon dioxide (website 1). From 1850-1990 deforestation worldwide released 122 billion metric tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, the current rate is approximately 1.6 billion metric tonnes per year. In comparison fossil fuel burning (coal, oil and gas) release about 6 billion metric tonnes of CO2 per year. This may contribute to global warming. The destruction of the rain forests also means that the water stored in the trees and below the canopy is released into the atmosphere not only affecting the local climate of an area by reducing the evaporative cooling but also possibly contributing to global warming.(website 4) NASA's Earth Science Enterprise plans to study the effects of deforestation in the future using analysis from lots of high tech satellite data so that we can understand its effect on climate change better but destruction of the forests will continue until better conservation methods and regrowth methods can be taught to farmers in poorer countries.(website 1) Reference 1.www.nasm.edu/ceps/research/AMAZON/amazon.html 2.http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/library/deforestation/ 3. Microsoft Encarta encyclopaedia 99 4.www.seawifs.gsfc.nasa.gov/OCEAN_PLANET/HTML/peril_deforestation.html ...read more.

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