Paper on Deforestation

This essay has a total of 1861 words and 9 pages.

Deforestation

Deforestation
The planet Earth is being scarred. Everyday the people of the planet earth are polluting
the planet's air, water and land. These are all natural resources that are necessary for
our survival on this planet. Yet, we continue to abuse our planet. Our world population is
growing out of control. The simple lesson of supply and demand tells us that we will need
more resources in order to support the booming population. One of the most important
factors in survival is food supply. With out enough food, we will not survive.
Unfortunately, our forest ecosystems are paying the price for the food demand.
Deforestation is a major problem on our planet. It is something that must be carefully
monitored and regulated.

Deforestation is a practice that has been taking place for thousands of years. Human
beings have found it necessary to clear out the forests for settlement and cropland.
Although there is no evidence as to how much of the planet's forests has been cut down, it
is obvious that this valuable ecosystem is declining. Studies estimate that, "original
forest cover has been reduced by nearly 50 percent." (WRI, p.90)

The forest ecosystem provides a number of services both directly and indirectly to humans.
For example, the Carbon and Nitrogen cycles are two of the cycles that are necessary for
survival on our planet. Carbon is a key element on our planet. Carbon is found in the
atmosphere, in plants and animals and in the ocean. "About 33 percent of the carbon that
has accumulated in the atmosphere over the past 150 years has come from deforestation and
changes in land use." (WRI, p.50) When the carbon is in plants, it is released back into
the atmosphere in a process called cellular respiration. If the trees and plants are cut
down, the carbon cycle is not completed. The carbon will not be effectively removed from
the air. "Fifteen tons of carbon (in the form of carbon dioxide) occur in the air column
above each hectare (2.5 acres) of the Earth's surface. One hectare of lush vegetation can
remove 50 tons of carbon from the atmosphere annually." (WRI, p. 60)

Nitrogen is another key element. Lack of Nitrogen could limit plant growth. Often times,
Nitrogen is added to fertilizers to help increase the growth of the crop. However, because
of deforestation, the nitrogen cycle has become unbalanced. Deforestation has caused an
excess of Nitrogen- "far beyond natural levels". (WRI, p. 50)

Erosion is another major problem caused by deforestation. "Soil erosion is, thus, the
process by which soil particles are detached from their original site, transported, and
eventually deposited at a new location." (WRI, p. 134) In the case of deforestation,
erosion will occur faster than natural erosion. This is called "accelerated erosion". "It
is often 100 times as destructive as geologic erosion." (WRI, p. 135) In the event of such
erosion, the soil becomes useless. It loses many of its nutrients. And, the new deposition
can even cause water pollution in nearby lakes, rivers, or oceans.

Another major problem associated with deforestation is species loss. According to the
World Resources Institute (p. 92), "(Deforestation) directly affects species biodiversity
by diminishing the amount of natural habitat available, blocking migration routes,
providing avenues for invasion by nonnative species, and changing the microclimate along
the remaining habitat edge." It is crucial that this damage is recognized and taken
account of.

To show the effects of deforestation, I have chosen two nations. One nation, New Zealand,
is a more developed nation. The other nation, Brazil, is a lesser-developed nation. By
studying the data available on these countries, we will be able to see what the impact of
deforestation has been on each country through a better understanding of each countries
economic status as well as the source(s) of the problem.

New Zealand
New Zealand is a beautiful chain of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, just South East of
Australia (Oceania). The country is mostly mountainous with some large coastal plains. The
climate on the islands is mostly temperate although there can be more unpredictable
weather on the coastlines. (www.odci.gov/factbook)

New Zealand's GDP is divided in the following manner: agriculture-8%, industry-23%, and
services- 69%. The amount of external debt or national poverty is unknown according to the
World Resources Institute.

According to the Pacific Directions Report (www.minpac.govt.nz), "The implications for New
Zealand as a whole are not good. For example, poor health status will inhibit the ability
of an increasingly important component of the workforce to make a full contribution to the
economy. Similarly, poor education status will mean that an increasing proportion of the
workforce will not have a high level of skills. These factors will hinder the innovation
required for the future economy." The lack of education will also have an effect on
environmental decision-making.

According to the Resource Renewal Institute, New Zealand has lost 80% of its original
forests. The once heavily forested chain of islands lost much of its forests to
settlement. Farming and the timber industry also share responsibility for the dramatic
loss of the forest ecosystems in New Zealand.

Deforestation has had a huge impact on the ecosystems of New Zealand. Soil erosion is one
of the problems that deforestation has caused for the country. According to the Resource
Renewal Institute, "Approximately 50 percent of New Zealand's land area shows some signs
of erosion; of that, half is moderately to severely eroded." It is the practice of
deforestation, which has caused many of the problems with soil in New Zealand.

Another problem that New Zealand faces is loss of species, a direct result of
deforestation. Many of the plants and animals, which are native to New Zealand, are rare.
This makes their survival even more important. The Resources Renewal Institute states
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