It’s a fact of life that our planet is under stress and that one of the main culprits is deforestation. The future of a treeless world looks far more probable every single year.
With trees and forests providing so much benefit for our world in the form of shelter, food, and resources, it can be a shock that almost 20 million acres of forest are cut down every year according to the U.N Food and Agriculture Organization.
However, the loss of a significant portion of all of Earth’s trees has far broader consequences than just a loss of wood products and clean air. This explains why so many people are fighting hard for awareness of deforestation.
Things Lost with the Trees
The first and most beneficial would have to be food and water. Farmers and hunters alike often depend on forests to not only provide ways to forage, hunt, and gather food but also on the water they provide.
Forests release water like a sponge, and that release often benefits plants and farmland nearby. The water often brings minerals and other beneficial nutrients to the farmland as well, and without them, the chances of either runoff or drought are increased.
Without forests, runoff can cause erosion and floods, as well as clogging up damns due to silt and reducing waterway transportation by boat for riverside communities. Floods can also cause damage to lives, property, and can be expensive to recover from.
Medicine derived from beneficial species for humankind can also be lost due to the deforestation of forests, with most drugstore medications having an origin in the rainforest. In addition, plants and animals that have been previously undiscovered and that could benefit people have been lost due to humans wiping out the species.
A Need for Fuel and Food
In most tropical areas, a great deal of the wood cut down is for burning wood and charcoal for fires, with most of the poor in urban areas spending money on firewood for cooking their food. With so much wood needed to heat a home for both cooking and everyday use for just one family, the urban areas of places like Latin America and Africa are slowly starting to run out of wood.
That can mean starvation and hypothermia if some other way to produce food and warm homes isn’t discovered, or if new trees aren’t planted to replace the ones that have been lost.
With the population of the world and a need for food, shelter, and space rising constantly, the struggle against deforestation is only getting harder and harder. The world needs more and more wood-based products and with that need comes a higher demand.
By taking conservation, recycling, and other effects on the environment seriously, humankind can potentially stave off a world without trees and the dangerous effects that come with it. This will bring the world into a brighter and greener tomorrow not just for themselves but also for the rest of the world.