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The Direct Environmental Causes and Effects of Deforestation When one hears the word 'deforestation' one typically thinks of the tropical rainforests. Unfortunately, deforestation in

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Deforestation The Direct Causes and Effects by Boris Medhurst April 2005 The Direct Environmental Causes and Effects of Deforestation When one hears the word 'deforestation' one typically thinks of the tropical rainforests. Unfortunately, deforestation in the United States is just as prevalent as it is in Central and South America. For example, the redwood forests of the western U.S. as well as the coniferous forests of Michigan are being cut down at an alarming rate. Moreover, that demand for land and resources is continually increasing. In short, deforestation in the continental United States was driven by the need for land, resources and money as well as by human attitudes. When the United States was first settled in 1607, the early pioneers began cutting down forests for housing and agriculture. Initially, this did not impact the land much, but, as the population grew, so did the demand for land, resources and money. The exploitation of the United States' natural resources was at it's worst during the 1800's. It was during this time that the driving factor behind deforestation was the desire to make money. Unfortunately, it was also during this time that natural resources were greatly wasted, as it was believed that an ample supply would always exist. During the 1800's in Michigan, the logging industry made more money then all of the revenue recorded from the California gold rush. ...read more.


Additionally, Chapter 26 of Agenda 21 of the UNCED (the 1992 Rio Conference) has addressed the loss of cultural diversity associated with global deforestation. These treaties are the most visible manifestation of a growing recognition and acceptance of the mounting costs of deforestation - costs so high that they threaten the future of human civilization. Nevertheless, form a timber extractor's point of view, it would be foolish to pass up the opportunity to get something for nothing that is represented by primary forest logging. The returns are enormous, often 50%, and the risk is small. However, consumer awareness and concern is growing, and this is beginning to be reflected in wood product trade statistics. Austria's 1992 Tropical Timber Labeling Act was one of the first side attempts to place limits on rainforest destruction associated with logging. The 1990s have seen several other initiatives begin. Furthermore, wood product conservation and recycling is growing rapidly around the world, and alternative fiber sources are poised to emerge. Throughout the tropics, rain forests are being cut down. By different methods and for different reasons, people in tropical regions of the world are cutting down, burning, or otherwise damaging the forests. The process in which a forest is cut down, burned or damaged is called "deforestation." Deforestation causes the extinction of many species and changes in our global climate. If the world continues at the current rate of deforestation, the world's rain forests will be gone within 100 years--causing unknown effects to the global climate and the elimination of the majority of plant and animal species on the planet. ...read more.


Banana Plantation) Many pesticides, alteration of hydrology More than 50 years Cattle Pasture Degradation of soils More than 50 years Selective Logging Few trees cut Less than 50 years Clear-cut Logging No trees or nutrients left More than 50 years Another type of farming practised in rain forests is called "shade agriculture." In this type of farming, many of the original rain forest trees are left to provide shade for shade-loving crops like coffee or chocolate. When the farm is abandoned, the forest grows back very quickly, because much of it was left unharmed in the first place. After this type of farming, forests can grow back as quickly as 20 years. Other types of farming can be much worse for forest re-growth. Intensive agricultural systems use lots of chemicals like pesticides and fertilisers. The pesticides kill a lot of the living organisms in the area, and pesticides and fertilisers wash into the surrounding areas. In banana plantations, pesticides are used on the plants and in the soil to kill pest animals. However, these pesticides also kill other animals as well, and weaken the health of the ecosystem. Banana plantations also use irrigation ditches and underground pipes for transporting water, changing the water balance of the land. After a banana plantation, or other intensive agricultural system, is abandoned, it can take a great deal of time for a forest to re-grow-- possibly even centuries. This essay should have given the reader a good overview of the topic and possible problems. ...read more.

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