HomeArticlesThe loss of the forest is the loss of life

Where does the forest go

People are accustomed to surround themselves with beautiful and comfortable objects. When buying something, we very rarely think about where this thing came from, what it is made of, what resources were spent, whether it harms the ecosystem of our Planet. Almost all items that are in everyday life of modern man, one way or another, pollute our Earth and devastate its resources. And one of the most pressing issues is deforestation - deforestation . This is a process that is characterized by the loss of wood material and the transformation of forests into wastelands, pastures, deserts and cities. The main factors of deforestation are: anthropogenic (the impact of human activity), forest fires, hurricanes, floods, etc. The loss of a forest is not only an aesthetic defect. This process has irreversible consequences for all inhabitants of the globe, as it affects the ecological, climatic and socio-economic conditions and reduces the quality of life. Even with the constant planting of young trees, the rate of their growth is incommensurable with the rate of disappearance of centuries-old forests.

Why is the forest shrinking so rapidly? Hurricanes, fires and other natural disasters existed many centuries ago, but the forest began to disappear intensively over the past decades. An analysis of global satellite imagery data for 12 years suggests that the area of ​​forest tracts is steadily decreasing: over ten years it has decreased by 1.4 million km2 . The greatest loss of forest areas in relation to growth was recorded for the tropical zone, the smallest - for the temperate one.

The growth of the population on the planet and the increase in its excessive needs, global urbanization (the concentration of life in big cities, the construction of infrastructure) and the concentration of the main activity in offices are the main causes of deforestation. If earlier wood was used to build huts and heat them, now paper is a household item of the first order of importance. The number and variety of interior items and decoration with wooden products has increased, people are used to simply wiping their hands with paper napkins, the daily amount of printed matter is millions of tons of materials, only a small part of which is recycled.

Offices are a huge consumer of wood products, where printing paper is consumed in enormous volumes :

  • each office worker uses an average of up to 10,000 sheets of paper per year (data from Xerox) and creates 160 kg of paper waste per year (Natural Resources Defense Council);
  • 45% of documents go to trash within 24 hours of creation (Xerox);
  • the main consumers of paper per person are the United States and Western Europe (Environmental Paper Network);
  • The largest increase in paper consumption is observed in China, while in other regions of the world paper consumption is declining slightly (State of the Paper Industry, 2011);
  • on average, one document is copied 19 times, including photocopies and printouts (AIIM/Coopers & Lybrand);
  • up to 20% of documents in companies are printed incorrectly (ARMA International);
  • 768 million trees are required to produce the world's annual volume of paper products ( conservatree.com ).

So, it is obvious that a simple habit of personal convenience, excessive paperwork and the race for money can soon turn out very badly for the inhabitants of the Planet themselves, so the application of urgent measures is necessary. First, you need to cultivate a conscious understanding of resource consumption and share it with employees and people you know. Then it is worth introducing measures to save paper, prevent its senseless spending, introduce the use of equivalent alternatives.

Another important problem is deforestation for fattening livestock on pastures (which we wrote about in the article “ Why and how animal husbandry harms the environment? ”) And growing crops (especially oil palms, for which rainforests are being exterminated at a high rate). What to do: reduce (or avoid) animal products, do not buy excess food and do not throw it away, do not overeat, grow food yourself at home (on the beds or balcony), store it properly (see the article "How to store products ").

This diagram shows the factors driving deforestation in major deforestation regions. Red color is the main factor of influence, orange color is the second most important, yellow color is an unimportant factor, the absence of color is the absence of influence.

Impact of deforestation

The main negative effects of deforestation are:

  1. Decreased biodiversity due to loss of animal habitats. Not only are they being deprived of their habitats, but food is also being reduced, and entire species have to move to unfamiliar habitats in search of shelter and food. In addition, animals in the conditions of a cut down forest become easier prey for hunters. With about 80% of the world's documented species living in tropical forests, deforestation poses a serious threat to the Earth's biodiversity.
  2. Emission of greenhouse gases. Trees are the lungs of the planet. They not only absorb carbon dioxide, but also release oxygen, thanks to which life on Earth exists and global warming is blocked. But deforestation releases between 6 and 12% of all greenhouse emissions into the atmosphere (due to the release of stored carbon in the process of tree dying), which is the third largest figure after coal and oil. Plus, the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed and oxygen released during photosynthesis is significantly reduced.
  3. Violation of the water cycle. As a result of deforestation, trees no longer release stored groundwater into the atmosphere, making the region's climate much drier, turning it into a desert.
  4. Increased soil erosion as tree roots no longer hold the ground and protect it from being blown away by the winds. The washing out of the earth increases and the protection of the soil from various runoff pollution, sunlight decreases, which leads to its drying. In the Amazon region, most of the water in the ecosystem is held in plants. Soil depletion and erosion are also facilitated by the planting of crops such as palms, coffee and soybeans, which have small roots and cannot keep the land from being destroyed.
  5. Temperature swings. Trees provide shade during the day and help keep the soil warm at night. Without forests, temperature fluctuations increase, which can be harmful to animals and plants in the area.

Statistics on forest loss

Of course, it is almost impossible to calculate all forest losses. Its disappearance or disturbance is influenced not only by human activity, but also by weather conditions, animal life, climate change, individual characteristics of plants. In addition, not every specific region can provide correct reporting ... We will quote data from The Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015 ( The Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015 ) provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations ( FAO ) , which offer a picture of understanding:

  • about 129 million hectares of forest, almost the size of South Africa, have been lost since 1990;
  • the share of forest area of ​​the total land surface of the Earth has decreased from 31.6% in 1990 to 30.6% in 2015 - the change was not so dramatic in percentage terms due to the planting of new forests;
  • Between 2010 and 2015, there is an annual loss of 7.6 million hectares of forest and an annual gain of 4.3 million hectares per year, resulting in a forest decrease of 3.3 million hectares per year. Currently, the rate of deforestation in the world reaches the area of ​​one football field per second;
  • meanwhile, the net annual rate of forest loss decreased from 0.18% in the 1990s to 0.08% in the period 2010-2015;
  • the largest area of ​​forest loss is observed in the tropics, in particular South America, Africa and Indonesia;
  • forest area per capita decreased from 0.8 ha in 1990 to 0.6 ha in 2015;
  • the area of ​​planted forests has increased by 110 million hectares since 1990 and represents about 7% of the total area of ​​all forests in the world;
  • in 1990 annual wood removals amounted to 2.8 billion m 3 , of which 41% was for wood fuel; in 2011, the annual volume of timber removal was 3 billion m 3 , of which 49% was for wood fuel;
  • 20% of all forests in the world are concentrated in Russia, 12% - in Brazil, 9% - in Canada, 8% - in the USA;
  • in the period from 2010 to 2015, the largest annual forest losses were observed in:
    • Brazil: 984 ha (0.2% of 2010 area);
    • Indonesia: 684 ha (0.7% of 2010 area);
    • Burma (Myanmar): 546 ha (1.7% of 2010 area);
    • Nigeria: 410 ha (4.5% of 2010 area).

    The loss of forest in these regions does not at all mean that the wood is used by the local population. Often, raw materials are sent to Western countries, and the area of ​​cut forests is used for grazing pastures or growing popular crops (palms, soybeans, coffee, etc.), which are also exported to Western developed countries. Thus, forests in these regions exist as a food springboard for economically more developed countries;

  • in the period from 2010 to 2015, the largest annual forest growth was observed in:
    • China: 1542 ha (0.8% of 2010 area);
    • Australia: 308 ha (0.2% of 2010 area);
    • Chile: 301 ha (1.9% of 2010 area);
    • USA: 275 ha (0.1% of 2010 area).
  • in high-income countries, over the past 25 years, the increase in forest area has been 0.05% per year, while in low-income countries, the increase is absent or has a negative value;
  • in high-income countries, wood is used as fuel from 17 to 41% of total timber exports, and in middle- and low-income countries this share is from 86 to 94%;
  • 79% of the hired forest workers are in Asian countries, such as India, Bangladesh, China. The employment of women ranges from 20 to 30%, and in some countries even more: Mali - 90% of women, Mongolia and Namibia - 45% of women, Bangladesh - 40%.

The map shows regions of untouched forest (green) and regions with deforested or planned deforestation (red), as well as numbers in hectares.

What we can do

Sometimes it seems that each of us is a very small person against large corporations and cannot change anything. But that's not the case at all. After all, the entire business of large corporations depends on the end consumer, for whom it is designed. And these consumers, one by one, can change the quality of their consumption, bring more awareness and concern for the environment, and then everything can change. You just need to know a few laws and rules of conduct, which will determine the next steps:

  1. If the corporations have the power to destroy the world's forests, they also have the power to help save them. Companies can make an impact by introducing a zero deforestation policy and cleaning up their supply chains. This means being responsible for deforestation, as Tetra Pak, for example, is one of the leaders in consuming wood products for its world-famous packaging. FSC mark (“tree with a tick”) on their products means that the raw materials for its manufacture were obtained from strictly traceable sources, and the manufacturer has made every effort to preserve the biodiversity and ecological functions of forests.
  2. Corporations must increase their use of recycled paper products.
  3. A conscious consumer should support a responsible producer who applies the above measures, and encourage those who have not yet reached this level to do so.
  4. A conscious consumer should be active in supporting forest conservation measures at the local, district, national and international levels - participate in actions, sign relevant petitions, help in disseminating information, etc.
  5. Show respect for the forest and nature in general, being on its territory: do not destroy plants, soils, do not litter or set fire to, teach other people the same careful attitude.
  6. When you buy wood products, ask yourself questions: how necessary is this thing? Does the benefit of its consumption outweigh the damage caused to nature? What environmental alternatives can you find? How long will this thing last and what will you do with it at the end of its service life?
  7. Consume sparingly: don’t buy unnecessary wood items, don’t use single-use items (matches, paper cups, plates, packaging, bags, etc.), find affordable alternatives (recycled toilet paper instead of 100% cellulose, tissue paper instead of paper ones, electronic diaries instead of notepads, e-books and tickets instead of printed ones, etc.).
  8. Give up (or at least reduce your consumption of) animal products, and do not buy excess food that you then throw away. Do not buy products containing palm oil, for which the most valuable tropical forests are ruthlessly disappearing.
  9. Hand over paper for recycling. One ton of waste paper saves 10 trees, 1000 kW of electricity, ionized oxygen for 30 people, 20 m 3 of water. Buy products made from recycled materials.
  10. Get smart about paper recycling (newspaper weaving, wall insulation, decorating, using as fuel, etc.).
  11. Whenever possible, plant a tree and remember to take care of it.
  12. Be sure to share this important information with friends, relatives, children and encourage them to save the forest. Nothing better than Nature, man has ever created. Take care of her wealth.


May all living beings be happy! 🙂


See also anekdotig:

Victoria Shurupova Victoria Shurupova

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