We’ve all heard of deforestation and the long guilty silence that often follows… But what does deforestation mean and why are we concerned about its effects? Join us on a journey in our new four part mini series ‘The WILD Life Diaries’ featuring articles by Charlie Bedwell.
Deforestation harms humans and animals alike. 1.6 billion people rely on the food, water, medicine, clothes and shelter that the forests can provide. Forested areas are cleared in order to provide areas for farming and development, paper and timber. This causes huge problems for the local people, whom are often in no position to oppose the action being taken. Land is never legally owned by local people; the building of plantations cannot be stopped by local populations. They are often forced to farm the plantations that are being built as they can no longer rely on the forest for the resources they need.
Building these plantations within populated areas has also encouraged the use of child labour. Children spend hours collecting the fruit, hauling it back and forth and are paid very little, if at all. Adults will also be payed the bare minimum to work upon plantations. Palm fruit takes approximately three to four years to grow, during which time workers are paid a meagre $2.50. From here on wages increase but are still minimal and often require “topping up” with the money received from child labour.
The effect on animal life is also devastating. Massive losses in forested area are causing devastating habitat loss, which inevitably leads to biodiversity reduction, many of the species at risk are already endangered. An enormous 80% of land animals make their homes in forests, few can fight the effects deforestation upon their habitats.
In terms of the environment, we are seeing massive changes. Less oxygen is being released into the atmosphere, by removing the trees that block out the sunlight the forests are being subjected to more severe temperature swings that animals and plants simply cannot cope with.
The rate at which we are destroying our forests is unsustainable, with the equivalent of 27 soccer fields being destroyed every minute. So, the time to act is now. Follow the links to the articles below that discuss some of the many ways we can reduce deforestation today!
About the Author: Charlie Bedwell is a graduate in Psychology from the University of Reading