What are the local and global consequences of deforestation?

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What are the local and global consequences of deforestation?

Deforestation is the felling and clearance of forest land, so that it can be used for other uses. It is proceeding at about 17 million hectares each year worldwide. Forests cover about a quarter of the total land surface of the Earth. The reduction in area of this valuable environmental, social and economic resource through deforestation has potential to cause problems both on a global as well as a local scale.

Some of the local effects of deforestation include the loss of wildlife. Many birds, insects, reptiles and animals rely upon trees for food or shelter. They die or are forced to move away if their habitat is destroyed. Furthermore, deforestation has caused the Elimination of Indian groups and their way of life. Estimates suggest that 96 per cent of forest Indians have died since the arrival of Europeans in the sixteenth century. The majority died from Western illnesses to which they had no immunity (e.g. measles and influenza). Those remaining have been driven from their homes by the construction of roads, mines, reservoirs and cattle ranches.  They have been forced to live on reservations which have few natural resources, and certainly none that are of value to the developers. In several parts of Brazil, Indians who have tried to resist being moved have been killed by developers.  There would also be more soil erosion and flooding. The forest canopy protects the soil by intercepting the heavy daily convectional rainfall. The tree roots help to bind the soil together and to reduce through flow. Without the trees there is increased surface run-off which causes both soil erosion and more severe and frequent flooding.

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In addition to this, deforestation is causing a decrease in the supply of hardwood. Only about one tree in twenty is of economic value to the timber companies, but their machinery, and falling timber, destroys many of the surrounding trees. As a result, some species, such as mahogany, greenheart and rosewood are becoming endangered.  A decrease in soil fertility is also an unintended environmental consequence of deforestation. In order to live, trees take nutrients from the soil. Dead trees, and leaves shed from trees, rapidly decompose in the hot, wet climate. This allows the nutrients to be returned to ...

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