Aerial view of deforestation in eastern Madagascar. Click image for more pictures of deforestation. (Photo by R. Butler)
CONSEQUENCES OF DEFORESTATION
By Rhett Butler
| Last updated July 22, 2012
Rainforests around the world still continue to fall. Does it really make a difference? Why should anyone care if some plants, animals, mushrooms, and microorganisms perish? Rainforests are often hot and humid, difficult to reach, insect-ridden, and have elusive wildlife.
Actually the concern should not be about losing a few plants and animals; mankind stands to lose much more. By destroying the tropical forests, we risk our own quality of life, gamble with the stability of climate and local weather, threaten the existence of other species, and undermine the valuable services provided by biological diversity.
While in most areas environmental degradation has yet to reach a crisis level where entire systems are collapsing, it is important to examine some of the effects of existing environmental impoverishment and to forecast some of the potential repercussions of forest loss. Continuing loss of natural systems could make human activities increasingly vulnerable to ecological surprises in the future.
The most immediate impact of deforestation occurs at the local level with the loss of ecological services provided by tropical rainforests and related ecosystems. Such habitats afford humans valuable services such as erosion prevention, flood control, water filtration, fisheries protection, and pollination—functions that are particularly important to the world's poorest people, who rely on natural resources for their everyday survival. Forest loss also reduces the availability of renewable resources like timber, medicinal plants, nuts and fruit, and game.
Over the longer term, deforestation of tropical rainforests can have a broader impact, affecting global climate and biodiversity. These changes are more challenging to observe and forecast from local effects, since they take place over a longer time scale and can be difficult to measure.
Extreme Deforestation - Easter Island
- Why are rainforests important?
- Why should rainforests be protected?
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First Resources the latest palm oil giant to announce zero-deforestation commitment
(07/03/2015) Palm oil giant First Resources has committed to eliminate deforestation and rights abuses from its supply chain, making it the first palm producer operating primarily at the grower level to do so. The policy is the latest in a wave of sustainability commitments from corporations that produce, trade and use palm oil. To realize its new commitment, First Resources will have to resolve numerous land disputes its operations are involved in with local communities in Indonesia.
Wilmar, Musim Mas supplier still destroying forest for oil palm in Indonesia's Leuser Ecosystem
(07/03/2015) A supplier of palm oil giants Wilmar and Musim Mas has continued to bulldoze valuable forest in Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem despite its most prominent customers’ zero-deforestation commitments and repeated exposés of its activities, according to a NGO report. Both Wilmar and Musim Mas have suspended their dealings with the company, Mopoli Raya.
Dilma disappoints with weak rainforest target
(06/30/2015) Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff disappointed environmentalists with what they call weak commitments on reducing deforestation and supporting renewable energy announced today during her visit to the White House.
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