Rainforests, some of the most beautiful places in the world are home to about half of the worlds land biodiversity and make up about six percent of the Earth's land surface. Rainforests are where we get a lot of the resources we need, for example a great amount of plants we need to make our medicines come from these rainforests. However, due to deforestation and other human activities our rainforests that once covered majority of the world's dry land now only cover about two percent of the Earth's surface. Which is devastating because they are critical to the sustainability of life, regulation of climate and provide ecosystem services globally. With the amount of destruction and harm being done, deforestation is no longer the center of concern. Scientists are now looking at the effects it will have on the environment, what this mean for future generations and how we can prevent climate change. This paper will briefly discuss why rainforests are important, the effects of deforestation and some possible solutions to help fix our ecosystems.
There are about 10 major rainforests in the world, one about every continent except Antarctica and a third of the world's remaining Rainforests reside in Brazil. These rainforest are essential to our planet because every single one helps stop the onset of climate change, the release of carbon emissions, and provides resources to every living organisms around the global. On top of that, these forests help in the process of regulating temperatures in addition to helping with weather patterns making them necessary to the sustainability of life. They are important to life on Earth because they are filled with thousands of different species of animals and plants that can not be found anywhere else in the world. Furthermore, there are thousands of more species, many of those being insects, which are yet to be discovered and studied. In addition, Rainforests are also where we get about a fourth of the medicines we need to help cancer patients. In fact, seventy percent of the medicines we use to treat cancer patients are found in these forests. More than that, less than a percent of the plants in rainforests have been analyzed to see if they are valuable in medicine. Ninety percent of rainforests are found in underdeveloped countries and all of these people, including the animals depend on the rainforest for their basic needs and every second we are losing more and more of our rainforests.
Rainforests are critical to our planet because they provide a tremendous amount of ecological services. Receiving nearly eighty inches of rainfall each year it stores a great quantity of the world's fresh water, houses a majority of the plants we need for our natural medicines and stores greenhouse gases. Plants forever alter life on land they create streams, provide homes, food and oxygen, without plants life just wouldn't exist. Likewise, without these forests our land would lose its moisture and become barren making it impossible to grow crops. Land becomes dry and barren because of plants not decaying and protecting the moisture in the soil. In order for plants to grow, the growth above the surface needs to die and decay before the new growth and if it doesn't the plants and the soil die. If however the plant does not die it will switch to oxidation, this is a problem because it causes the dying plant to smother and kill other plants. Which then leads to woody, dry vegetation and bare soil that releases carbon. Plants that naturally grow and die provide shade from the sun, while holding in moisture making it the perfect climate for new crops to grow. Without the growth of new plants we would have wild temperature fluctuations because believe it or not rainforest take in and release so much moisture that they are responsible for a lot of the rainfall in the world. We would have depleted oxygen supply because plants take in carbon and releasing oxygen. Also, global warming temperatures would sky rocket, this is because the burning and logging of trees reverse the carbon cycle and instead releases more greenhouse gases. So what could be the cause of deforestation? According to a case study done by Falza (Aug 2017) The main causes of deforestation are growing demographic pressure, poor management in natural forests, rural and urban communities' household, dependency on fuelwood, scientific pastures beyond capacity, forest fires and storms (p. 1). These findings are true because even though some deforestation is intentional some is not, deforestation can be a combination of human and natural factors. Such as Wildfires, these fires can be devastating to forest because they can go on for miles burning and killing hundreds of trees and wildlife. These fires are also negatively affecting climate change because burning two acres of land can give off more and more damaging pollutants than about six thousand cars. Another big nonhuman contributor to the kill of forests are Pine Beetles, they are so over populated due to the warming of the climate that they are eating away at hundreds of trees per year making the problem even worse and having major consequences.
Deforestation of rainforests can also have serious consequences in our environment. The biggest impact we have is the loss of habitat for so many species. With our forests being cleared out on a massive scale in a hundred years these forest could completely vanish. In an article done by Didenko (2017) he found that, Over 11 million ha of rainforests are destroyed annually in the world. With keeping the current speed of deforestation, this could lead to destruction of forest area equal to the area of India within 80 years (p. 166). Didenko is right, every year land the size of New Jersey is cleared out by deforestation, that's about seventy million acres per year and the number keeps growing. It's also estimated that we lose about one hundred and fifty species of plants and insects every year, which can greatly hurt our food and medicine supply. Currently, eighty-five percent of all species reside in Madagascar, making it a place with an enormous amount of resources. Even with that being said it has lost ninety percent of its forest and is still one of the poorest places in the world, this makes it difficult for people to survive there. Animals are important for the maintaining of ecosystems and it is important that we stop looking at forests as just a place for local resources and more as a place for world resources. Although, many of us take it for granted we rely immensely on the species around us for our fundamental needs. Some of these are fresh water, clean air, food, erosion control, and pollination prevention. With the killing off and extinction of thousands of animals, insects, and plants we jeopardize our future making it unsustainable. Furthermore, forests are also one of the best ways to help slow down global warming because they capture billions of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases each year. Forests are huge reservoirs of stored carbon and when a forest is burned it releases most of that carbon back into the atmosphere adding to global warming. In Africa, acres and acres are being burned each year for coal and palm oil. This is adding tremendously to global warming and yet no one is talking about it or even working to fix the problem.
Another important ecological role forests play is the ease of climate change. As well as provide resources for everyone on this planet. One of the biggest things these forests do is absorb harmful greenhouse gasses. The burning of these forests that is caused my humans amounts for ninety percent of all wildfires. This is a huge number compared to the ten percent of wildfires caused by natural causes. The reason the burning of forests comes with many consequences like the release of billions of tons of carbon dioxide. Trees and small plants take in nearly double the amount of carbon dioxide found in the atmosphere and when these plants are burned all of that carbon stored is then released back into the atmosphere. Shading the forest and preventing the sun's rays and rainfall from reaching the forest, which then causes more plants and animals to die. According to NASA
Since fires produce carbon dioxide, major greenhouse gas, biomass burning emissions significantly influence the Earths atmosphere and climate. Biomass burning had both short and long term impacts on the environment. Vegetation acts as a sink a natural storage area for carbon dioxide by storing it over time through the process of photosynthesis. As burning occurs, it can release hundreds of years worth of stored carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in a matter of hours. Brining also will permanently destroy an important sink for carbon if the vegetation is not replaced.
Forests play a tremendous role in the carbon cycle and this is due to photosynthesis, without it we would have an overabundance of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. The reason why carbon dioxide is so bad for global warming is because it traps in the suns infrared Ray's and keeps that heat stored in the atmosphere. Heating our planet and messing with the weather patterns. Lastly, another huge thing deforestation messes with is the water cycle. Forests contribute a lot to the water cycle and are useful for the regulation of rain recycling it back into the atmosphere.
Although, to most it seems there is little to no hope for these valuable forests there are actually some efforts being done to try and save these precious ecosystems. One of these efforts is planning and managing the forest resources so we can be sure that the forests and ecosystems stay intact. By doing this we educate other communities on the dangers and negative effects of deforestations getting them on board. The second part to the solution is reforestation which is the process of planting new young trees where old ones were removed. However, the problem with reforestation is that it still isn't equaling the amount of trees being cut down, also it's takes time and is difficult to recover ecosystems that have been destroyed. Lastly, the final solutions were developed by a scientist by the name of Allan Savory. He recently did a TED Talk on his concerns with deforestation and the only possible solution that will help save us in the end. Dr. Savory tested out many possible solutions, he even became so desperate that him and his team killed off thousands of elephants thinking it was the overpopulation of them that was preventing the crops from growing, however, this only made the problem worse. The conclusion he came to is live stock, live stock plays a huge part in the rise of temperatures across the globe. However, Dr. Savory believes that if we move live stock around mimicking nature instead of letting them graze in one single area. He found that not only will the plants start to grow, but they grow back at an alarming rate. This due to them flatting plants that are decaying, which then shades and keeps the moisture in the soil, while they also fertilized the soil with their manure. Dr. Savory found that, Drought is not what is causes the bare grounds, it's the other way around, and in order to stop our planet from going completely barren we need to focus on replenishing our land. All of these solutions can help mitigate the consequences of deforestation and help protect the biodiversity, food supply, water supply and products we take every year from these forests. However, these solutions won't just be enough, even with so many rules and regulations put into place illegal deforestation is still a big problem. The United Nations will have to come up with better ways to monitor these illegal activities and will need to have stricter consequences to stop illegal deforestation.
Rainforests are described as The Lungs To Our Planet taking in CO2 and releasing Oxygen. Unfortunately, one and a half acres are lost every day due to deforestation and everyday an increasing amount of pollutants are pumped into our atmosphere eating at our fresh air. At this rate of deforestation our forests will be gone by the year 2118, meaning things need to change and quickly. Our greatest problem of deforestation is agriculture and illegal logging operations. We do not have a carbon problem, we have a human problem and countries will need to come together to develop new policies and regulations to stop this destruction because rainforests help stabilize our planet and without them it could be fatal.
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