Deforestation is the permanent destruction of forests in order to make the land

available for other uses. Deforestation occurs for many reasons: trees are cut down to be used or sold as fuel or timber, while cleared land is used as pasture for livestock, plantations of commodities and settlements. Globally some 74-93 thousand square kilometres of forest are lost each year, equivalent to 48 football fields every minute. Deforestation has many negative effects on the environment, including species extinction. It is also a major contributor to climate change. Cattle ranching is another leading cause of deforestation especially in the Amazon rainforest. The goal of this campaign is to raise awareness about deforestation and how it is not only affecting the earth but also the animals living on it, including humans.

We rely on trees for the production of oxygen so that we can breathe, yet globally, deforestation is estimated at 13.7 million hectares a year, equal to an area the size of Greece. The destruction of such vast quantities of forestland will no doubt have disastrous consequences in the future, especially considering that fewer trees will result in a smaller intake of carbon dioxide, adding further emissions to the enhanced greenhouse effect. The fewer trees there are, the less oxygen that will be available for us to breathe. This is a particularly concerning issue because as the population of the world continues to grow, as does deforestation. It is estimated that the global population will reach between 7.5 and 10.5 billion by 2050, so despite the fact that there will be less oxygen in the atmosphere, there will also be more people who need it to survive. 

Deforestation doesn’t only contribute to global warming and species loss because of loss of habitat. It can also effect the water cycle of the forest, particularly the Amazon. Trees absorb rain fall and produce water vapour that is released into the atmosphere. Trees also lessen the pollution in water, by stopping polluted runoff. The destruction of trees effects the soil rigidity because the tree roots anchor the soil. Without trees, the soil is free to wash or blow away, which can lead to vegetation growth problems. Scientists estimate that a third of the world’s arable land has been lost to deforestation since 1960. After a clear cutting, cash crops like coffee, soy and palm oil are planted. Planting these types of trees can cause further soil erosion because their roots cannot hold onto the soil.

Palm oil is a major cause of deforestation. It is an edible vegetable oil derived from the mesocarp of the fruit of the oil palms. It a in common ingredient in margarines, biscuits, breads, breakfast cereals, instant noodles, shampoos, lipsticks, candles, detergents, chocolates and ice creams. In total, 50 million tons of palm oil is produced annually, supplying over 30% of the world’s vegetable oil production. This single vegetable oil is found in approximately 40-50% of household products in countries such as United States, Canada, Australia and England. There are many animals affected by the destruction of forests to make way for palm oil plantations but the primary animals that are endangered because of palm oil deforestation are:

·         The Siberian tiger- experts estimate that fewer than 400 of these animals now exist in the wild. From 2009 to 2011 approximately two thirds of Siberian tiger habitats have been destroyed and converted to palm plantations.

·         The Sumatran and Bornean Orangutan- these gentle apes, with whom we share 96.4 percent of our genes, are in a dire situation. One of the easiest and most common methods of clearing land is “slash and burn.” Deforestation to make way for the planting of palm trees is destroying their homes and killing them in the process.

·         The Bornean Pygmy Elephant- like so many other species, the pygmy elephant has plummeted due to habitat loss and deforestation related to the palm oil industry.

·         The Sumatran Rhinoceros- also known as the pygmy rhinoceros, this species is yet another victim of the palm oil industry. Habitat loss due to deforestation for palm plantations has these animals truly at the brink of extinction. Today, only 100 Sumatran rhinos remain in the wild.

The Amazon Rainforest is vital because it is estimated to store some 86 billion tons of carbon, which accounts for over a third of the total of all carbon stored by tropical forests worldwide. Therefore the Amazon Rainforest helps reduce the overall carbon emitted into the atmosphere slowing the rate of global warming. However, with every tree cut down, carbon is released. Moisture from the Amazon influences rainfall as far away as the Western United States and Central America. The cattle sector in the Brazilian Amazon, supported by the international beef and leather trades, was responsible for about 80% of all deforestation in the region, or about 14% of the world’s total annual deforestation, making it the largest single driver of deforestation in the world. The annual rate of deforestation in the Amazon region has dramatically increased. Most of this lost forest was replaced by pasture for cattle. It is estimated that the Amazon Rainforest will be reduced by 40% in two decades. 

The Chinese government is making an effort to combat deforestation it has set a requirement that every able-bodied citizen between the ages of 11 and 60 is responsible for planting three to five trees per year or complete an equal amount of work in other areas of forestry. Since 1982, the government claims that at least one billion trees have been planted in China as a result of the program. Other governments should take a leaf out of china’s book. Putting tighter restrictions on logging and more supervision to protect forests would also help stop deforestation. The purchase of palm oil products puts a higher demand for palm oil, forcing the clearing of a billion more kilometres of forests land for more palm oil plantation.

Deforestation is affecting the earth to a catastrophic degree. If we don’t act now to restrict deforestation, then we might be too late to prevent deforestation from destroying our world. Please support this campaign!

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