“Forests ... are in fact the world's air-conditioning system-the very lungs of the planet-and help to store the largest body of freshwater on the planet ... essential to produce food for our planet's growing population…In simple terms, the rainforests, which encircle the world, are our very life-support system-and we are on the verge of switching it off.” Prince Charles’ view on the global issue of deforestation is very accurate. According to The Business Dictionary, deforestation is defined as the ‘clearing of virgin forests, or intentional destruction or removal of trees and other vegetation for agricultural, commercial, housing, or firewood use without replanting (reforesting) and without allowing time for the forest to regenerate itself. Deforestation is one of the major factors contributing to the greenhouse effect and desertification.’ My goal is to spread awareness about the causes and effects of deforestation on the environment, wildlife and the human population. It’s important to be aware of the damage deforestation is creating so we can develop new strategies that lessen the environmental impacts while still meeting the needs of our growing population.

Deforestation is a major issue and the impacts it’s having on the rest of the world are rather scary. To understand this issue, it’s important to look into what the main contributors to deforestation are. These include urbanisation, agriculture and livestock land clearance. Unsustainable agricultural expansion is the direct driver for around 80 percent of deforestation worldwide. Deforestation helps prove consumers with products that are in high demand and used in everyday life such as building materials, grocery shop items and body care products. What the consumer is unaware of though is the events going on behind the scenes that are having a direct impact on the environment and wildlife. Would most consumers be aware for example, that World Wild Fund Australia (WWF) estimates that 15 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation? Another interesting fact is that about half of the world’s tropical forests have already been cleared and that one and a half acres of forest is cut down every second. Also, as a result of deforestation, more specifically Palm Oil deforestation, a number of animal species are now on a scale from endangered to critically endangered. Animals such as the Orangutan, Sumatran Tiger and Sumatran Elephant are all in danger of extinction if the rate of deforestation continues as it is currently. These are staggering figures and it’s so important for the global community to be aware of these issues so we can develop strategies to try and take control and better manage deforestation to keep up with consumer demand while also taking care of our environment, because if the destruction continues, it will be too late.

Palm oil deforestation is destroying native species’ habitats and the ecosystem. As a result, creatures such as Orangutans are seriously endangered and if there is no change then more species will be in danger of becoming extinct. As a result of major population growth, to keep up with consumer demand the quantity of product manufacturing and distribution must increase as well. The impact of this is that the rate of deforestation increases and the fact is that our environment won’t survive at this current rate of destruction. Currently it is estimated that within 100 years there will be no rainforests left because currently roughly one and a half acres of forest is cut down every second. We must do something to control this issue because at the moment our future isn’t looking positive. As well as destroying the world’s forests, deforestation is also contributing to another highly significant environmental issue. That issue is global warming.

Deforestation is contributing to global warming and extreme weather events such as soil erosion and flooding. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow and develop. They store the carbon dioxide in their trunks, roots, leaves and in the soil. Therefore, through the human act of deforestation, forests are cleared which releases all of the absorbed carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere, resulting in climate change. Currently it is estimated that 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation according to the WWF. Another interesting fact is that deforestation is producing more greenhouse gases than transport around the world. In summary, it is clearly evident that deforestation has a heavy and direct impact on our environment and ecosystem. Another problem that is likely to develop is the impact on the human population.

If we don’t introduce new strategies to reduce the rate of deforestation, we will be at a major risk of losing all of our forests within the next century. This will threaten the lives of the global population as we will lose our source of oxygen. Basically, trees release oxygen when they use energy from sunlight to make glucose from carbon dioxide and water. If we lose all of our forests within the next century, as is predicted, without change the future of the human population on Earth is highly threatened because without oxygen we cannot survive. Anton Chekhov states that “a tree is beautiful, but what's more, it has a right to life; like water, the sun and the stars, it is essential. Life on earth is inconceivable without trees. Forests create climate, climate influences peoples' character, and so on and so forth. There can be neither civilization nor happiness if forests crash down under the axe, if the climate is harsh and severe, if people are also harsh and severe. ... What a terrible future!” From examining/exploring the detrimental impacts that deforestation has on the environment, ecosystem and the human population, it is clear that we need to take action by reducing the rate of deforestation in order to save our future.

The rate of deforestation is increasing to keep up with population growth. The simple fact is that we need to act to save our planet before it’s too late otherwise the future of the human population is at stake. We can take action by purchasing sustainable timber and timber products, recognising which products contain ingredients from deforestation such as palm oil by identifying labelling and finally, by the Australian Government enforcing their laws regarding importation of unsustainably sourced timber so that people/businesses are held accountable. Deforestation is only caused by human demand so it’s up to us to fix what we have created otherwise we are at risk of destroying the future of life on planet Earth. It’s not too late to make a change, support my campaign and we can work together to save our planet.

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