Deforestation: a common enemy

Updated: Apr 16, 2021

Today in Way To Zero Waste, we tell you what deforestation is and why the conservation of forests is vital for the conservation of ecosystems.

Have you ever thought about how you would feel if a stranger came along and destroyed your home, leaving you without a place to live, without food or a place to sleep, and you see that what you used to call home has become a space where deforestation is the only thing that prevails?

This is experienced by an endless number of mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds, microorganisms and plants, such as jaguars, ocelots, tapirs, tapirs, eagles, frogs, snakes, ancestral plants and more species that if we continue naming would not reach the blog. It even harms you as a human being, and we are going to explain why.

Deforestation refers to the removal of the vegetation layer in a certain territory. This can occur naturally due to phenomena such as hurricanes, droughts, fires or plagues. According to the New York Times, in 2017 hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated approximately one third of the forests in the Dominican Republic and a large number of trees in Puerto Rico.

On the other hand, this phenomenon intensifies and has worrying statistics when it is associated with anthropic activities, since in order to dedicate spaces to agricultural, livestock, urban expansion, among others, large amounts of forests are being cleared, which are responsible for providing a large number of ecosystem services such as carbon capture and storage, climate regulation, maintenance of the water cycle, water purification and mitigation of environmental risks.

Tree cover plays a very important role in capturing greenhouse gases responsible for global warming. In the photosynthesis process, trees require carbon dioxide (CO2), accompanied by light and water (H2O). A small part of the carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere by respiration and most of this compound is trapped in their biomass. When these organisms are cut down, they can no longer retain CO2 and this gas is released back into the atmosphere, causing these forest ecosystems to cease to be CO2 sinks and become emitters of this greenhouse gas.

For the year 2019, Global Forest Watch reported a loss of 11.9 million hectares in the tropics, where 3.8 million hectares corresponded to primary tropical rainforests, which are of enormous importance for biodiversity and carbon storage. This loss of vegetation is associated with the emission of approximately 1.8 gigatons of carbon dioxide, which is similar to that emitted by 400 million cars in a year.

Do you see how deforestation affects us all?

The conservation of forests at a global level is fundamental for the balance of ecosystem services and the adaptation and mitigation of climate change. This climate phenomenon is a reality and affects us all. And to confront it, we must begin by better managing plant resources.

We must move from implementing indiscriminate logging processes to balanced logging systems, where ecosystems have the capacity to regenerate and conserve themselves.

Join the fight!

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