The ability to understand and address the effects of deforestation and logging forms the basis towards sustainability of resources, greater social-economic development, political stability and ecological sanctity in the fast globalizing society. Deforestation is not a one state issue as it was previously thought.
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In fact, it is a highly diverse aspect with far reaching implications to all environmental aspects. Lawrence et al (2012) point out that the current trend in deforestation around various countries across the world is shocking.
If this trend is not addressed, its cumulative effects would be irreversible and therefore greatly risk the existence of future generations. At this point, key questions that have frequently been asked have included the following: What entails deforestation?
How does deforestation affect a natural forest ecosystem? What are the main causes and resulting effects? What are some of the current efforts that have been put in place to address deforestation? Are these efforts efficient?
The current concerns on global deforestation have been examined in this paper as part of underscore its magnitude on a global scale and the litany of the disaster in the market. To indicate the road path that has resulted into the current precarious position and how it can be addressed, the national policy options have also been evaluated.
Finally, using the market to address the problem of deforestation and logging, the paper indicates the opportunities that can be assimilated to promote sound environmental practices that are equally sustainable while maximizing the returns to the people.
Background and overview
The ability to balance between economic development and natural resources capacity to sustainably maintain profitability forms the basis of the human race to match into the future with dignity and vitality.
Though the understanding of deforestation and logging as analysts concur is highly contested, the revelation of its related impacts has created a critical niche that demands involvement by all stakeholders.
Over the last few decades, the problem of global warming in conjunction with aspects such as deforestation have been cited as the most dangerous disasters in waiting on a global scale.
This has been the case due to its expansive deforestation and destruction of nature that makes even those not involved directly in its destruction to severely suffer the negative effects.
In their publication, Lawrence et al (2012) define deforestation as a permanent destruction of woodlands and forests. The definition points out at indigenous tree as well as vegetation cover which does not include plantations of pines and gums or industrial forests. The role that forest plays in the balancing of an ecosystem is very crucial.
Environmentalists indicate that besides being a source of materials human beings use every day, it serves as a habitat for endemic plants, birds and wild animals. The problem of deforestation has been massive in most regions in the world with recent reports from the World Bank showing a four fifth reduction of indigenous forest.
Other reports indicate that by 2011, half the total forest of the world had disappeared posing a threat to the majority of plant species and animals living in the tropical forests.
On the other hand, logging is part of deforestation whereby trees are cut, processed on-site and loaded into trucks. The latter is a silviculture activity with similar effects like deforestation.
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While some would argue that the logistics behind logging is to remove wood from forest to a lumber yard outside a forest, it is imperative to note that the practice directly connects with deforestation. It is a theft of timber and violates the law.
Figure1: A figure showing the effect of logging
Reasons for deforestation
The current fast deteriorating status of natural environment has greatly been caused by poor domestication, articulation, and harmonization of international laws by individual countries and states.
This has been prompted by lack of enough good will to address all issues relating to environment in a holistic outlook thereby compromising the overall resilience of the same natural resources.
Due to much bitterness, scholars have lamented about the reduced capacity to comprehend the inability of their non-inclusive sole conservation strategies which factors not the interconnectedness of the natural environment.
As a result, this has created a strong rift between the conservations and implementing bodies over who is to blame for the mayhem. Over the years, the desire to advance and grow both economically, socially, and culturally have been entirely dependent on nature.
Whereas various countries lag behind in implementation of different conservation laws in their jurisdictions, it is clear that the practice of deforestation and logging is committing the world into a more perilous state than it is currently.
Virtually all products and services are nature-derived. Even for the few that may claim non-derivative status, their transport and eventual spatial temporal application have great connotation of nature.
Studies indicate that deforestation is not a new phenomenon since it has been a difficult issue blamed on numerous factors. Lindsay and Thornton (2012) indicate that some one of the reasons behind deforestation is the growing need among agricultural dependent communities to convert forest and woodland areas into agricultural lands.
It is imperative to highlight that this has been a factor that has been motivated by the demand to feed the ever growing populations. Besides, many societies in tropical countries have over the years turned to cattle ranching and growing of cash crops to earn money and foreign exchange.
As a result, many large forest areas have been cleared and turned into farming zones for livestock breeding and cash crop farming.
Figure 2: A diagram showing deforestation
Additionally, deforestation occurs when businesses within an industry practice commercial logging. The latter has been a method widely used by industries that supply the world market with a variety of wood such as ebony, mahogany, teak, and meranti.
This practice has not only destroyed forests, but has opened up large tracts of land for agriculture. The felling of trees has not only stopped with businesses, but also the construction sector which relies on trees for building.
Effects of deforestation
Global warming and climate change
Global warming is the increase in the average temperatures on the troposphere due to excessive emissions of green house gases into the atmosphere. Scientifically, green house gases allow easy penetration of short wavelength radiations from the outer space while obscuring escape of the long wave radiations from the earth surface.
As a result, there has been a direct build up of the surface temperatures in the earth thereby causing vast climate changes. As a concern by the natural laws, this change has been directly linked to massive destruction of natural ecosystems in the world.
Excessive thawing in the polar regions, rising levels of the sea, loss of forests, flooding, higher levels of tropical weather systems and most importantly desertification.
Scientifically, carbon dioxide is an important component in green plants’ photosynthetic process. However, Lindsay and Thornton (2012) point out that human beings have constantly been clearing forests for agricultural purposes, urban development, settlements and industrial development.
Besides, forests have also been cleared as raw materials for wood based industries. On average, Masood and Shah (2012) indicate that about 80,000 acres of forests are cleared every day globally. As a result, the critical role of sinking the atmospheric carbon has greatly been compromised and therefore resulting to greater accumulation of greenhouse gases.
High levels of poverty
While many human activities on forest have been aimed at improving living standards through agriculture, it goes without mentioning that the deforestation has instead increased global poverty levels that have plagued the society today.
In their publication, Lawrence et al (2012) indicate that the immediate concerns for individuals clearing forests for agriculture or burning charcoal for money is neither conservation nor environmentalism. Rather, they are mostly concerned with basic survival. This practice therefore puts the environment under great pressure.
This coupled with intensified mechanization of deforestation by industries has resulted to extremely high rates of forest cover removal. The impact has been a devastating 13 million hectares of land being cleared down every year around the world.
This puts pressure on the natural resources and forest clearance either for alleviating poverty, raising economic status or promoting greater development through mechanization affects the balance in the ecosystem leading to poverty.
A more worrying effect to agree with Bonan(2008) is desertification. The rising temperatures as recorded over the years intensify the severity of draughts, by making more land uncultivable and less habitable.
Floods and submergence of coastal lowlands
According to Betts et al (2001), the rising temperatures over the years have resulted to excessive thawing of ice waters at the Polar Regions.
Consequently, the additional waters has resulted to key submergence and flooding of the low lying costal lands. Islands and low lying regions such as Venice, New Orleans and Indonesia have recorded key losses from floods (Lindsay & Thornton, 2012).
In the Caribbean, nations such as Cuba, Haiti and the Domican Republic which rely on beach tourism to support their economies have started experiencing major losses from floods and could be headed to major disasters if the problem is not addressed.
From the above analysis, it is clear that deforestation is one of the most critical aspects that require immediate address if the earth is to avoid major disasters. Cooperation and ethical responsibility is therefore critical for the risk to be effectively addressed.
Of greater importance is the need to assimilate better mechanisms based on research that provides empirical information on how to address the problem.
Besides, the future of individuals and businesses in the world is considered to be on a critical balance as states and their associated social-economic and political systems appear to differ greatly on the model that could be used to address deforestation and the awaiting disaster.
It is critical that the society at large take a leading role in progressively assimilating models that reduced felling of trees for whatever reasons. Due to the extent of the negative effects, corporate social responsibility by businesses should be taken with greater emphasis to link the respective stakeholders in addressing the problem.
For many years, trading in timber has been claimed to be a negligible factor in loss of forests. There has been a notion that wood fuel and agricultural land clearance are the most harmful forms of deforestation (Masood & Shah, 2012).
Growth in population is believed to be the cause of the major scourge in forestation. Industrial exploitation of wood is also a valid problem when it comes to the impacts of deforestation. Research has proven that there has been a misconception in the determination of the most relevant cause of forest loss.
Besides, the efforts by the international board of bio diversity preservation to define this problem are quite reliable. In its mission to enhance survival of the ecosystems, they have managed to give a clear picture of the problem at hand. It has been concluded that trading in timber is the most significant factor which leads to forest loss and degradation of the environment.
It is possible to conduct a detailed discussion which gives an account of how logging is harmful to forestation. This can be attained through pointing out realities which are on the ground. It is not easy to find a rich endowment of forests in areas which have large or small scale operations in timber harvesting.
Regions which have a high diversity of tree coverage have both old and valued trees. These are the major targets of commercial activities. It goes without saying that the more valuable a certain species is, the scantier it becomes as time progresses.
Hence, natural forests have been devastated. This is more rampant in areas where stewardship of forests is done by indigenous people or groups who are politically not empowered. A nominal state of control is experienced which later opens up forests towards deforestation.
The fact that these high diversified forests have a rich value has continued to draw growing attention. They have an established flow to markets given that they are easily acquired.
Commercial activities in timber industry have also led to reduction in the quality of forests. In a conservation perspective, it is true that there is no positive difference brought by replacing the world’s forest cover with plantations of trees. It should be noted that a principle of destroying in order to repair is not helpful at all.
It is a destructive plot which continues to abhor efforts of saving our ecosystems. It is also worth noting that the majority of native wildlife should not be destroyed intentionally with a mentality that replacement will be done in the near future.
Original native species should be left intact to continue multiplying. Even though it is impossible to retain a constant number of a given species, it is important to keep all rare trees alive. Replacing them with exotic types leads to the growth of weed species. This is as a result of cross pollinations which may not be easily curbed.
Poor quality of forests is being experienced across the globe. Most parts of Australia, North America, Europe and Africa at large have suffered greatly due to this problem. This is more felt in the biological value of forests. Analysis shows that the loss of trees which cover land has a far reaching impact than it is thought.
Quality in composition of forests is a basic intrinsic element which should be preserved to keep good ecosystems. This is because trees have different values. If ecosystems are not given a natural chance to have full development, then there is likelihood that forests will suffer numerous extinctions in the near future.
The impact of forest loss continues to be felt as time goes by. Forests have continued to grow scantly in different areas. Many countries have remained with fragments of what used to be areas of high forest cover. The only regions which seem to have rich forests are those which are next to human habitations.
The latter have proved to be less reliable due to the fact that timber trade has continued to grow. Actions of timber traders are at a critical level with the survival of biological forest. Ecosystems have been significantly affected in pursuit of timber (Lindsay & Thornton, 2012).
There have been years of continued degradation and as such, forests have terribly suffered. Areas with natural forest cover have remained to be the hope for future forestry. The earth has reached a point where it has vast pieces of land which had adequate forest cover but was cleared.
Young regenerations of such forests have minimal chances of survival because logging has devastated the available tree cover. Old forests have reached a point of no return. Research shows that if forests were not tempered with by timber harvesting, then flora and fauna would retain their primary growth.
Undisturbed forests are rear to obtain. They have been left in the hands of merciless activities of logging. It is evident that the quality of ecosystems in the current world has undergone gross degradation.
In a pursuit of what is believed to be sustainable development, nations have destroyed their rich natural ecosystem. Natural ecosystems are barely able to support life. There is a clear representation of the picture when chances of survival of given species of organisms are under the care of human beings.
The fact that people cannot stop commercial logging even after seeing its adverse effects is a solid prove of how tree life is no longer given the reverence it deserves. It should be noted that the activity of commercial logging is going to dilapidate ecosystems and posses a threat to the biological well being of both fauna and flora.
Assessments show that legal timber trade is harmful. In fact, deforestation due to illegal logging is negligible. Timber from illegal activities is a small percentage of the bulk that circulates in the global timer industry.
Logging has therefore proven to be a major cause of loss of forest cover. It is true that countries which carry out logging have a relatively high impact of losing sustainable ecosystems.
Indeed, the period of 30 years from now is very pivotal as far forest ecosystems are concerned. According to the current rate of commercial logging and deforestation for the sake of habitation, this period is going to determine the future of diverse natural forest ecosystems.
Policies interventions made during this period will play a vital role. An implicit decision of saving the world’s ecosystems is indeed vital (Masood & Shah, 2012).
This is a serious situation and more united stewardship of forests needs to be put in place. Governments should take this issue without hesitation. This is the time to regulate the international timber industry.
Betts, R. A., Falloon, P. D., Goldewijk, K. K. and Ramankutty, N. (2001) Biogeophysical effects of land use on climate: Model simulations of radiative forcing and large- scale temperature change. Agriculture for Meteor, 142, 216-233.
Bonan, G. B., (2008) Forests and climate change: Forcings, feedbacks, and the climate benefits of forests. Science, 320 (3), 1444- 1449.
Lawrence, P. et al (2012). Simulating the biogeochemical and biogeophysical impacts of transient land cover change and wood harvest in the community climate system model (CCSM4) from 1850 to 2100. Journal of Climate, 25(9), 3071-3095.
Masood, M., & Shah, F. (2012). Dilemma of third world countries – problems facing Pakistan energy crisis a case-in-point. International Journal of Business and Management, 7(5), 231-246.