Effects of deforestation?

CO2 EMISSIONS: Trees take up CO2 from air and hold carbon in their wood [5]. When they are cut down and the wood is burnt or naturally decomposes, CO2 is released back into the air [4]. When a tree naturally dies, this happens too, but when a new one regrows, the CO2 is taken up again – so it’s a cycle [13].

LESS RAINFALL: tree loss can also affect rainfall patterns [1]. Plants suck water up from the ground and release it into the air; this water vapor causes clouds to form and can provide rainfall for miles around [1,6]. Deforestation of the Amazon rainforest has already caused droughts in southeast Brazil, affecting crops and millions of people [6].

SOIL DEGRADATION: the roots of trees and plants stabilise soil, protecting soil from being washed away by rain [1]. Deforestation means soil is no longer held in place by roots, making it unstable [1,7]. This can lead to deadly landslides [7]. The soil remaining when the top layer is lost is nutrient-poor, making it hard for plants to regrow [1,8]. Moreover, the soil holds three times more carbon than the air, and much of this is being released due to deforestation, contributing to global warming [9].

FLOODING: mangrove forests (trees that grow in saltwater at the coast) protect people from waves – their loss can increase damage and human deaths from storm surges [10].

BIODIVERSITY LOSS: most of modern-day deforestation is of rainforests [1], which are home to about half the plant and animal species on Earth [11]. As the patches of forest get smaller, animals find it harder to survive, causing some species to go extinct [12]. Such change in land use is the most severe threat to species, globally [2]. Just looking at the area of forest loss, however, underestimates the harm caused to nature [3]. Fragmentation of forest into smaller, non-connected chunks, and degradation of the forest interior by logging and fire, can double biodiversity loss from deforestation [3]!

Trees are much much more than pretty green things that hold carbon. Losing them is bad for all of us. What do you think you could do to protect billions of trees in the rainforest?

References

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