With the onset of the Industrial Revolution, the rate of deforestation has increased across the world and it has negatively affected our surroundings. Deforestation has been posing a negative effect on our planet, be it rise in sea levels, global warming, or even a hypothetical apocalyptic situation like the runaway greenhouse effect.
The most notable effect of deforestation is the loss of forests, trees, climate change, and various other issues have been put forth to the environment. Afforestation is one of the most suitable solutions to deforestation.
For the last two centuries, the population of human beings has always been increasing. Experts estimate that the population will grow even more in the coming decades. Such factors suggest that deforestation cannot be eliminated entirely but there is still a hope as it can be tackled to a significant extent. Afforestation aids in maintaining the balance and avoids harming the natural aspects of action.
The process of planting trees or seeds in an infertile area regardless of any tree to create a green cover like a forest is known as afforestation. You might get confused between afforestation and reforestation. Reforestation is the method of, especially planting local species of trees and plants into an area that is suffering from reducing the number of trees.
Reforestation is boosting the number of trees of present forests, on the other hand, afforestation is the formation of a new forest. Our planet has been in a constant effort to try to cope with the manner humans are using natural resources, cutting trees, clearing green covers and polluting air, land and water. Increasing population, industrial revolution and environmental pollution are causing near permanent damage to the earth, leading to climate variation and global warming.
In such circumstances, the only thing that can aid in enhancing the sustainability of our planet and its living beings is the boost of natural resources and reduction of over-utilization of these resources.
A majority of the commercial and residential requirements of human beings are fulfilled by forming forest covers and planting trees. Thus, afforestation is an approach that has been encouraged by various governmental and non-governmental organizations of different nations as a solution to curb the over-utilization of ecosystems.
As the demand for building materials and wood fuels continues to increase, afforestation aids in fulfilling such requirements without the need to cut down the vegetation covers. While deforestation gives rise to destruction of trees and plants in water catchments and riverside areas, afforestation makes sure that the green covers bind the soil in these highly susceptible areas to stay conserved.
When it comes to ecological advantages, replanting trees on an infertile or depleted land aids in getting rid of increasing carbon dioxide levels. Afforestation on a large scale tackles the issues arising because of fossil fuel burning, industrialization, misutilization of natural resources, and many more.
Deforestation, also referred to as clearing, clearance, or clear-cutting is the process of removing a green cover or loads of trees from a land which is then transformed to a non-forest purpose. The process may consist of converting forest lands into ranches, farms, or commercial use. The highest degree of deforestation takes place in the tropical rainforests. Further, forests account for around a third of the land surface of Earth.
Urbanization: Growing population means growing needs of people. This results in mass clearing of forests to a significant level to fulfil the demands such as, construction of residential areas, civil facilities, buildings, mineral utilization and expansion of factories.
Agricultural Methods: Converting forests into agricultural areas is a major factor for deforestation. Because of the ever-increasing need for food items, a lot of plants and trees are cut down for crops and for cattle grazing. More than 2/5th of the forest lands are cleared to acquire the land and fulfil the requisites of wood and agriculture.
Mining Purposes: Mining activities are on a rise to meet the various industrial demands, especially for oil and coal. Increasing mining exploration projects means more clearing of green cover, as such, leading to deforestation.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions: There are some gases which trap heat within the atmosphere of earth like carbon dioxide and methane. This results in climatic variations. As we know plants and trees absorb carbon dioxide and release moisture and oxygen, this process gives rise to global warming. So, clearing off trees increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the environment as well as leads to an absorption deficiency.
Soil Erosion: As removing plants and trees results in massive clearance of green cover, it causes soil erosion. Long exposure of the soil to the scorching heat of the sun decreases the moisture content in the soil. The nutrients evaporate and it impacts the microorganisms that aid in breaking down of organic substances. Because of this, rainwater washes the upper layers of soil and thus, erosion occurs. Lots of soil reaches the domestic water bodies like rivers and streams and poses negative effects on irrigation infrastructures and hydroelectric structures.
Biodiversity Depletion: Deforestation changes the land pattern, as such, a majority of flora and fauna fail to survive. And further deforestation might lead to extinction of various species of plants and animals. This is known as biodiversity depletion. As per studies, about 50 to 100 species of animals are endangered due to loss of their habitat. In addition, millions of animal and plant species are almost getting extinct due to continuous clearing of forests.
Floods: Trees are essential in maintaining the surfaces of mountainous areas. Cutting down of trees causes land pollution and gives rise to increase in water levels, thereby leading to floods. In case of heavy rainfall, trees gather tons of water with the help of their roots. Hence, removing plants and trees hampers the flow of water and causes floods in some regions.
The following solutions are some of the ways to avoid and curb deforestation:
Replanting of trees
Awareness about the harmful effects of deforestation among people by educational campaigns
Strict regulations at national and international levels should be implemented to ban deforestation.
There is no doubt that trees and plants are really crucial for us and also for the entire ecosystem. The two words: afforestation and deforestation, associated with trees, are the exact opposites or the antonyms of each other. So after learning A to Z about deforestation and afforestation, let’s find out the differences between them.