What are the causes and consequences of deforestation?Forests are at the heart of the planet's climate issues and biodiversity issues. The disappearance of our forests endangers the life of species and plants that exist nowhere else in the world. Some are endangered because they simply have no more habitats. Deforestation is a major problem for the balance of life on earth. And yet it continues to grow all over the world.
What is deforestation?Deforestation is the action of destroying forests for the benefit of agriculture, infrastructure, logging, .... We can distinguish two types of global activities related to deforestation, direct activities and indirect.
Direct activities related to deforestation:
- Agriculture (livestock farming, large-scale farming, smallholdings) is the main driver of deforestation;
- Extractive activities: Logging; Firewood; Mining;
- Infrastructure: Transport; hydroelectric power; Urban expansion;
Deforestation can occur on primary forests (old forests that have never been significantly altered) as well as secondary forests (that have been cleared and regrown).
The destruction of forests contributes to climate change, as well as to the loss of biodiversity and the vital services provided by nature.
According to WWF "The European Union is the second most responsible region for imported tropical deforestation and associated emissions. It has caused more deforestation than any other country due to its imports of agricultural products between 2005 and 2013, before being overtaken by China in 2014."
What are the consequences of deforestation?The consequences of deforestation are the collapse of biodiversity, climate change, impacts on local populations and on our health.
What are the consequences of deforestation for humans?Human health is closely linked to that of forests.
Forests provide us with:
- Medicinal plants;
- They prevent the reduction of the risk of spreading infectious diseases and the risk of natural disasters (example: floods, landslides, storms and heat)
In addition to the food, fuel and fiber provided by forests that support human health and well-being, forests also act to regulate water cycles and filter pollution from the air that affects human health.
The loss of forests therefore has an impact on our health in several ways: air quality and climate change. These negative impacts often result from deforestation and forest degradation, which limit the ability of forests to provide what we need to live healthy lives and prevent disease.
Infectious disease research shows that deforestation can increase the risk of disease to humans, by improving and altering the biology of disease vector habitats
Globally, approximately 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods. As WWF explores in its new report, The Vitality of Forests, deforestation can harm these people by reducing their access to food, shelter, shade and medicinal plants.
Indigenous peoples, who have lived in a reciprocal relationship with the forest for hundreds of years, are often the hardest hit.
Forests are therefore vital to human health and well-being.
What are the consequences of deforestation for soils?The consequences of deforestation on the soil are already observable in the Amazon.
The deforestation carried out to expand agricultural land and intensive agriculture requires the use of chemical fertilizers, which destroys the soil and will make it completely hostile.
What are the consequences of deforestation for the environment?
1. Deforestation increases greenhouse gas emissionsForests are an essential tool for mitigating climate change because they absorb carbon from the atmosphere, storing it in their trunks and root systems. They are the biggest carbon sinks, after the oceans. Clearing forests by burning them massively releases the carbon dioxide the trees contain, which encourages and fuels greenhouse gas emissions.
2. Deforestation destroys biodiversityDeforestation destroys our planet so rich in its biodiversity. Forests are home to 3/4 of terrestrial species. 80% of life on earth is found in forests where every creature has a crucial role. Each species allows trees and plants to grow. This biodiversity keeps our planet healthy. But it is under threat at an unprecedented rate. Every year millions of hectares of forests are lost, causing the loss of biodiversity. For good reason, the resurgence of deforestation.
3. Increased risk of forest fire
The Amazon rainforest is drying up due to global warming causing spontaneous fires that start on their own.
Uncontrolled forest fires are obviously harmful to forest communities.
4. Deforestation contributes to meteorological changeAs we mentioned earlier, deforestation contributes to global warming. Rain in tropical forests is partly due to the fact that the forest transpires. It collects rainwater, allows it to evaporate and create clouds that will turn into rain again. Therefore, the fewer the trees, the less the rain.
What are the solutions against deforestation?Our actions are important to reduce deforestation but it is the actions of governments and companies that will be decisive in the face of this global problem.
Some solutions exist at our level to limit deforestation, those we are telling you about are the purchase of certified products Certifications are one of the elements that we can mobilize to fight against deforestation. And recently, some certifications include 0 deforestation policies.
- Buying certified wood products
Forest certifications for sustainable forest management:
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification (created in 1994). This logo is most often found on wooden products, packaging, paper, corks, but it can also be found on shoes made of natural rubber, clothing made from cellulosic fibers from trees, etc. .. An FSC-certified product means that:
- Forests are responsibly managed in accordance with FSC requirements;
- Helps protect animal habitats;
- Preserving biodiversity and protecting ancient trees;
- Ensuring no deforestation;
- Protecting the rights of indigenous peoples;
Ensuring fair pay and a safe working environment for workers.
- PEFC certification (created in 1999) certifies responsible forest management. It is a global network of individuals who are passionately committed to forests. PEFC contributes to preserving the biodiversity of forests, supporting the communities that live there and the forest owners. This allows companies to access responsible sources of supply and consumers to buy certified products. PEFC guarantees that the products come from sustainably managed forests.
- Buy RSPO-certified palm oil: The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification designates sustainable palm oil which has not contributed to deforestation. You can use the RSPO ScanApp to identify the level of palm oil sustainability in your products.
- The Rainforest Alliance label: Rainforest Alliance is an American NGO that certifies products such as bananas, cocoa, tea, etc. This label indicates that producers, foresters and companies take measures to make their products more sustainable and to protect people and nature.
- Leather is an unsuspected cause of deforestation. In the Amazon, cattle ranching is an untraceable industry, making it impossible to know if cattle were born on deforested land. If you want to know more, here is the link to our article.
- Keep learning, supporting and sharing: Finally, you can stay informed about deforestation news, sign the WWF petition for a law against deforestation and to continue to talk about it around you, so that there is an awareness of the challenges of deforestation.
Each of us therefore has a role to play through our individual and collective actions
It is essential to protect the remaining forests, in particular intact and primary forests, and reduce pressures leading to future deforestation and degradation by reducing threats.