Deforestation is defined as the widespread clearing of trees from a specific parcel of land. The purpose of this process is to create an area of space that can be used for purposes other than forest management. Most deforestation actions occur in tropical rainforests as a way to prepare large swaths of land for farming, plantations, or agricultural pastures.
Although farming is a common cause for deforestation that is often discussed, there are multiple reasons why these actions are taken. Resource extraction, logging, and mining activities all create cash opportunities that the land cannot provide when it is covered with trees. Even though we know the dangers of removing trees from the environment, deforestation activities continue to escalate in the patterns that were first established in the 1960s.
The United Nations estimates that over 18,000,000 acres of forest are lost each year due to these activities. Since 2010, countries like Afghanistan have lost over 70% of their forests due to development efforts.
These are the significant deforestation pros and cons to review.
List of the Pros of Deforestation
1. Deforestation creates more usable land for agricultural activities.
Although recent human population estimates for the year 2050 have been revised downward to about 9 billion people, that means we still must have enough crops grown to feed each person. We must have access to fresh water resources that support human population levels to this extent. One of the ways that we can do that is through the creation of more usable agricultural space.
Removing a forest should never be the first option. The advantage that it gives us is access to the space we need to create the food resources that will support us in the future. If we plant more trees to compensate for the ones that must be harvested to create the space, then we can offset many of the disadvantages that come through this practice.
2. Deforestation creates income-earning opportunities.
There are numerous materials harvested from forests that earn an income for the workers and countries involved. Logging gives us access to timber which is used to build structures. We can work on mineral extraction, oil and gas, and mining activities that generate ongoing income options. When the costs of removing the timber are compared to the profits that can be earned from the resources found in that area, deforestation becomes an economically profitable venture when it is appropriately managed.
3. Deforestation is a job creator.
There are few employment opportunities found in the countries where deforestation takes place most often. Most workers in these regions are trained in agricultural work only. Clearing forests is a way to create logging jobs. The mining opportunities found in the spaces create high wage positions which would not exist otherwise. Even transforming the land into something that produces agricultural products creates more employment options for the region. This process generates an income for families that may not earn anything otherwise.
4. Deforestation gives us the products that we need.
We must sacrifice a lot if we reverse our emphasis on deforestation. Wood pulp that is used to create paper comes from timber taken from these activities at times. We build furniture based on the logging work what happens in the modern forest. Items like rubber, Carnauba wax, and aspirin all have ingredients which are sourced from the rain forest. A better solution would be to utilize responsible harvesting practices instead of attempting to clear cut trees when trying to create new economic opportunities.
5. Deforestation creates tax revenues.
The income generation opportunities provided through deforestation activities do not stop wants the land is cleared. Farming generates crops which can lead to higher levels of taxation on property and products. Mining and oil production work generates revenue that the government can use in other ways too. In the countries were deforestation occurs most often, numerous social programs are funded by work that falls into this category.
6. Deforestation can stop urban overcrowding issues.
Urban sprawl frequently occurs in the countries which feature deforestation activities. By creating new space that is usable for various needs, new communities can begin forming in areas that were once classified as being unusable. This structure makes it possible to reduce the urban population levels by creating new land ownership opportunities which would not exist otherwise. These actions create new chances for economic output, while also reducing the effects of urbanization which also create negative impacts.
List of the Cons of Deforestation
1. Deforestation creates a lack of cultural and biological diversity.
The loss of diversity on our planet is a devastating experience. Many of the scientific discoveries that occurred today are because of research that was based in forests. We can even trace humanities tribal past through the study of ancient rainforests. When we get rid of diversity, that gives rise to a higher risk of mutations forming within plant, animal, and human genomes. More than a dozen genetic mutations and humans are associated directly with incestual activities. When these issues occur, they tend to stick around for centuries, which impacts future generations in unknown ways.
2. Deforestation is not necessary to create additional agricultural space.
The nation of Brazil achieved a 75% reduction in their deforestation activities in 2015. The government then received $1 billion in funding from a project which works to preserve forest lands around the world. We can work together to find alternative solutions for our agricultural leads when we’re willing to explore ideas that are outside the box. Norway supports this activity in Brazil because it helps to offset the omissions they generate from oil production. Imagine how we could support additional tree grows by utilizing spaces that receive little attention right now.
3. Deforestation can encourage violence.
The history of reclaiming land from the rainforest in Brazil is one that is extremely violent. Ranchers would hire mercenaries to remove local tribes, trespassers, or anyone who might threaten their deforestation activities. Some tribes of been so devastated by these activities that they are down to just a handful of members. Even when the government tries to protect these groups, the people who want the land for their own purposes use their resources to counter those protective measures. There is a very real threat of genocide with these activities is outside interventions are not possible.
4. Deforestation disrupts human cultures.
Our tribalism may have evolved to be based on borders instead of forests, but it still exists. If we are unwilling to respect the ancient cultures which have not moved to a modern society, then that speaks more about us then it does of them. We cannot substitute patriotism for meaningful social contact with one another. Some of the tribes that lived in these forests seek no contact with the outside world. There may still be hundreds of isolated tribes living in South America and Oceania which reflects the history of humanity’s culture.
When we make contact with these people, we destroyed them. It only takes one year for an isolated tried to lose 50% of the remaining members because of the consequences of outside contacts.
5. Deforestation takes advantage of a dwindling resource.
The process of deforestation can only last for so long. We only have a specific number of trees on our planet at any given time. If we continue to cut them down for other purposes, then eventually they will all disappear. At the current rate of deforestation in South America, the Amazon rainforest could be completely gone by the year 2060. An escalation of harvesting activities could make this deadline even sooner. Since only 1% of life on our planet that is believed to live in these environments has ever been studied, we would lose out on numerous potential scientific advances if this outcome we’re allowed to be achieved.
6. Deforestation encourages flooding and erosion.
Trees offer stability to the soil. Without their presence, it would not be able to absorb water in the same way it does today. Poor drainage occurs when the land is overworked. This outcome creates higher levels of flooding and erosion because there is nothing left to stop the movement of the water. Then the extra water moves into streams and rivers, which causes downstream flooding for communities hundreds of miles away from where the deforestation activities are taking place.
7. Deforestation offers limited profit opportunities.
The act of deforestation creates limited profits for those who are participating in these activities. The removal of trees creates a tangible cost that limits the economic impact our global society needs. According to information published by the BBC, up to $5 trillion is lost each year because of our effort to remove forests. The total loss we experience financially is the equivalent to almost the entire GDP from all the countries which are participating in deforestation activities in the first place.
8. Deforestation creates changes in weather patterns.
When there are fewer trees filtering carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, then greenhouse gases can accumulate in harmful ways. Drought caused by human activities creates a global impact which limits life on our planet in numerous ways. It limits our ability to grow crops, access water supplies, and meet the basic needs that we have every day. This pollution creates so much harm that over 200,000 people each year just in the United States die because of its influence. We must understand that the frequency and severity of these climate changes are directly tied to tree removal.
9. Deforestation does not create usable agricultural space in every circumstance.
Although deforestation creates more open space, that isn’t a guarantee that people have access to usable land. The issue with this word is that most tropical soils are old and weathered. Their nutrient profile does not support crop grows without artificial intervention. Dense vegetation areas, like you would find in a rainforest, increase the acidity level of the soil as well. There are toxic levels of aluminum and iron found in cleared lands. Once you add in the repair costs to alleviate these issues, the financial benefits of clearing the trees might not outweigh the disadvantages that occur when there is less biological diversity.
10. Deforestation prevents ongoing research.
Recent research suggests that up to 70% of the plant life found in rainforests offer the potential of cancer treatment properties. We currently use over 200 plants for the medicines we take today because of the work that was done in the rainforests in previous generations. Not only would we be stopping future medical advancements with our deforestation activities, but we are also eliminating current treatment options for people who are sick.
Vista for station pros and cons make it pretty clear that we cannot continue with the status quo. We must be responsible with our forestry management from here on out. If we are not, then our children and grandchildren will pay the price for our inactivity. We may only have five decades left to fix this problem. That means we must all get started on it today.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.