Did you know...
Photographer : Paul Rose
What is deforestation?
- 50 football fields of trees and bushlands are being lost every hour (Forest Conservation Portal)
- 50–100 plant and animal species are disappearing every day? (Stock, J & Rochen, A)
Deforestation occurs when areas that used to be forested are converted for use in other ways such as logging or as agricultural ground. Deforestation can be at the heart of many problems that affect our environment.
At issue in the debate over deforestation, is how to balance corporate and human needs for forest land, against the needs of the environment. Deforestation is really a case by case problem but it happens for a few main reasons. The leading causes of deforestation include:
- expansion of agricultural lands
- dams and other development projects
In all cases except fire, the underlying cause of deforestation is economic. Who is affected by deforestation?
If you breathe, then you are affected. Forests are crucial in recycling carbon, oxygen and nitrogen. They basically act as a filter for the air we breathe. When a forest is disturbed, it can affect the balance of the environment. Is deforestation a problem unique to Australia?
No, deforestation occurs in all parts of the globe. Australia has a small percentage of forests compared to other countries (about 20% of the total land mass) but our forests are disappearing just as quickly as those in more forested countries. Australia ranks fifth in the world for the amount of deforestation that occurs every year. Deforestation can occur wherever there is an unprotected forest but the problem is more evident in the eucalypts forests of Tasmania. What does deforestation mean for you?
Deforestation can lead to the destruction of natural habitats, causing plants and animals to become endangered or extinct. Forests contain 60% of the earth’s biodiversity and over 25% of the world’s medicine is derived from tropical plants. Australia is home to over one million species, many of which are found nowhere else in the world.
Deforestation can also lead to drought, resulting in a number of long lasting affects including poor quality food and water restrictions. Australia’s recent drought has been linked to an increase of deforestation. How do I know this?
Australian Greens, ‘Policies: international environmental sustainability’, Australian Greens Online
Forest Conservation Portal, http://forests.org/
Greenpeace International, http://www.greenpeace.org/international/
Mongabay.com, Australia deforestation rates and related forestry figures
Stock, J & Rochen, A, The Choice: doomsday or arbor day http://www.umich.edu/~gs265/society/deforestation.htm
World Wildlife Fund for Nature Australia, http://www.wwf.org.au
World Wildlife Fund for Nature Australia, Logging is the major cause of global deforestation, http://www.rainforestinfo.org.au/good