Clearing of forest land from trees is the main curse of the modern so-called developed world. Today, there are only 4 billion hectares of forest cover is left. The world has lost a third of its forest, an area twice the size of the United States. Tropical rainforest on the Caribbean coast of Honduras is disappearing at the rate of 80,000 hectares or 2.5% per year. Causes of deforestation can be categorized into two main categorized: Natural and man-made.
- Natural causes include hurricanes, fires, pests, and floods.
- Human activities such as agricultural expansion, cattle ranching, timber extraction, mining, oil extraction, dam construction, and infrastructure development.
Agriculture ( pulp, palm, and soybean plantations), cattle grazing, mining, and drilling together account for more than half of all deforestation. Forestry practices, forest fires, and, to a small extent, urbanization, pastures, roads, and infrastructure. explain the rest.
The list of the main causes of deforestation is following.
- Forest fires
- Illegal and unsustainable logging
- Fuelwood Harvesting
- Mining and drilling
- Climate change
- Cattle grazing
- Poor Forest management ineffective forest management strategies and bad governance
- Different infrastructure projects
- Acid rain
- Negligence of Governments lack of no forest laws
- Unscientific grazing beyond carrying capacity
Detail of main causes of deforestation
1- Forest Fires
Every year, fires burn millions of hectares of forest around the world. Fires are part of nature, but degraded forests are particularly vulnerable. These include heavily exploited tropical forests, forests on peaty soils, or places where forest fires have been suppressed for years, allowing unnatural accumulation of vegetation which makes the fire more intense. The resulting loss has far-reaching consequences for biodiversity, the climate, and the economy.
2- Illegal and unsustainable logging
Illegal logging occurs in all types of forests on every continent – from Brazil to Indonesia – destroying nature and wildlife, taking away the livelihoods of communities, and distorting trade. . Illegally harvested timber ends up in major consumer markets, such as the United States and the European Union, further fueling the cycle.
Logging provides the world’s wood and paper products, so countless trees are felled down every year. Loggers, some of whom operate illegally, are also building roads to access increasingly remote forests, resulting in further deforestation.
3- Fuelwood Harvesting
Overharvesting for domestic use or for the commercial charcoal trade causes severe damage to forests.
4- Mining and Drilling
Mining and drilling of oil, copper, gold, & other rare minerals can only be accessed after the land is cleared of trees. The impact of mining on tropical forests is increasing due to increasing demand and high prices for minerals. Mining projects are often accompanied by the construction of major infrastructures, such as roads, railways, and power plants, putting additional pressure on forests and freshwater ecosystems.
5- Climate change
The loss of forests is both a cause & an effect of climate change. Climate change can damage forests, for example by drying up tropical rainforests and increasing fire damage in boreal forests. Inside forests, climate change is already damaging biodiversity, a threat that is expected to increase.
Increased salt levels in the soil can have long-term consequences, causing delayed mortality of some tree species, followed by forest decline and dieback. Continued degradation of forests may also occur as temperatures rise due to climate change caused by human activity.
6- Agriculture (pulp, palm, and soybean plantations)
About 80% of global deforestation is the result of agricultural production, which is also the main cause of habitat destruction. In Malaysia and Indonesia, forests are being cut down to make way for the production of palm oil, which is found in everything from shampoo to saltines. The use of Former forest areas for livestock rearing and agriculture is increasing in Brazil and Indonesia.
7- Cattle grazing and ranching
Animal rearing and feeding are major causes of deforestation and are also responsible for around 60% of direct global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In the Amazon, cattle ranching and farms, especially soybean plantations, are the main culprits. Cattle ranching and deforestation are the strongest in Latin America leading the problem more severe.
8- Poor Forest management
Ineffective forest management strategies & bad governance is also the leading cause of deforestation. This intentional deforestation results in devastating effects on a region’s climate. Poor forest management practices include non-selective logging, no scientific grazing, no representatives for forest management & protection, accidental introduction of pests or pathogens by exotic species, unequal distribution of water in artificial forests etc.
Forests are also cut down due to increasing urban sprawl as land is developed for houses.
10-Different infrastructure projects
Different infrastructure projects like Dams, Railway tracks, military bases, roads, houses, industries are examples that are engulfing more and more forest land.
Corruption leads to the stealing of timber and firewood. Week law and order situation develops corruption habit in the general public which becomes devastating for forests as the forest products are precious and profitable. Mafias may involve in smuggling timber that may lead to the clearing of large areas of forests.
More population puts huge pressure and creates a short supply of forests products like timber and firewood, paper and pulp. To meet market demand there is the certain result of more forests cutting and clearing.
13- Acid rain
Acid rain can be extremely harmful to forests. Acid rain that seeps into the soil can dissolve nutrients, such as magnesium and calcium, that trees need for good health. Acid rain also causes the release of aluminum into the soil, which makes it difficult for trees to absorb water.
High winds that knock trees down and heavy rains that cause flooding are two of the main ways hurricanes damage a forest. Larger tropical storms, such as hurricanes (cyclones or typhoons), can cause substantial damage to the rainforest and recovery can take a decade.
15-Pests and Diseases
And new tree pandemics continue to strike. In California, sudden oak death, a disease caused by a nonnative fungus-like pathogen, was first noticed in the 1990s. It has killed millions of trees and had “devastating effects on coastal forests in California and Oregon,” according to a state task force in California.
In the past 120 years, voracious insects and fungi have swept across North America with frightening regularity, laying low the chestnut, the elm, the hemlock and, most recently, the ash. Each of those trees anchored natural ecosystems, and human economies and cultures. And while climate change and wildfires grab the headlines, invasive species have so far proved to be a far greater threat to forest biodiversity in the temperate world.
16- Negligence of Governments
Lack of no forest laws in a country makes the best environment for the activities of the timber Mafia. The situation becomes more severe due to the lack of political will on the part of the government and The inequitable distribution of wealth and power.