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Global Impact of Deforestation

Global Impact of Deforestation

Deforestation is damaging to individuals living in the world today, and may be devastating to generations of the future. Currently, deforestation in many parts of the world is responsible for climate changes, reduced rainfall, and the endangerment of wildlife and plant species.

While some experts disagree on the exact extent of the damage deforestation causes, all agree that future generations are likely to suffer the most from current environment alternating practices.

  • According to current estimates, half of the worlds forest cover has been destroyed.
  • Over 60 percent of temperate broadleaf and mixed forests are gone.
  • 45 percent of tropical moist forests no longer exist.
  • 70 percent of tropical dry forests have been deforested.
  • 11 countries are facing total deforestation.
  • 28 countries have forestland that is threatened.

Current Deforestation Impact

Many of the estimates pertaining to current deforestation comes from the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), yet many scientists disagree with the accuracy of the FAO's figures. Determined to find more accurate numbers, a team of scientists from the European Commission's Joint Research Centre in Ispra, Italy performed their own research using identified deforestation hot spots. These hot spots were selected by using low-resolution satellite maps from the early 1990s along with expert opinion. Using 100 sampling sites, the scientists then estimated the amount of deforestation between 1990 and 1997.

According to this research, the world is losing 5.8 million hectares of humid tropical forest each year. This number equates to an area twice the size of the state of Maryland in the United States. Southeast Asia was identified as the area with the largest percentage of deforestation, followed by Africa and then South America. Since the reports release, other scientists have noted that by using such early maps, the team may have missed critical hot spots for deforestation that began later in the 1990s.

The Amazon Basin is home to the world's largest area of rain forests. In total, this area comprises approximately seven million square kilometers and represents 60 percent of the world's total tropic rain forests. The Amazon Basin is home to more than 55,000 different plant species. This large variety of plant life makes the Amazon Basin one of the richest natural resource locals in the world.Who is to Blame for the Global Impact of Deforestation?

When it comes to placing blame for deforestation, fingers point in all directions. In Brazil, the government blames the large numbers of landless peasants who must clear the forests in order to survive. Yet the fingers are also pointing at the Brazilian government itself. For instance, the Brazilian government gives tax breaks and good land prices to cattle ranchers. Current estimates hold that these cattle ranchers are responsible for almost half of the deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon to date. When Brazilian president Fernando Collor froze bank accounts in 1990, deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon dropped by almost 9,000 kilometers a year. When economic conditions improved in 1994, approximately 30,000 kilometers of the rain forests were destroyed.

Future plans of the Brazilian government will result in even larger losses of the Brazilian rain forests. Within the next five years, the Brazilian government has stated that it will spend over $40 billion on project 'Avanca Brasil' to improve conditions within the country. These plans include: the construction and paving of highways; building new railways; laying gas lines; constructing new waterways; and the construction of 79 hydroelectric dams. This last project alone will result in the flooding of 12 million hectares of the Amazon forest. The other projects will result in the deforestation of six million additional hectares of tropical forest. If projections hold true, within the next twenty years approximately 40 percent of the Brazilian rain forests will have been destroyed.

The impact of deforestation on the environment and the world's climate is devastating at best. The problem with predicting the exact consequences is that no scientist can say for sure what amount of deforestation will be safe, and what amount will lead to dire consequences. The only sure fact is that deforestation leads to global warming and a reduction in rainfall

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