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Deforestation and Habitat Loss

Why is deforestation good?

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May 13, 2016 12:42PM

It can be good; it is not necessarily good. Deforestation happens naturally from time to time via wildfires. Trees, plants, and animals all recover from such events naturally; indeed, some benefit from a fire. Bird such as the black-backed woodpecker thrive ONLY in freshly burned areas, where they eat insects that bore into the burned trees. Some trees such as the lodgepole pine produce serrotonous cones, cones that are fused shut and only open when a wildfire cooks the cone, thereby spreading the seeds into a freshly burned area with little other competition. Over time, burned areas regrow into forests. For an example, a visit to Yellowstone National Park today reveals a forest that is 20 years old (major fires burned much of the park in 1988) and filled with medium-height lodgepole pines. People cause deforestation for a number of reasons. The action is not always permanent; some countries are better at replanting forests than others. Trees can be converted into paper or wood, two products that human civilization uses daily. In some parts of the world, wood is still a major source of fuel for cooking and heating. Chances are wood is a major component of your home's structure, the main use for timber in the U.S. Wood may be used to build furniture, cabinetry, or other products. Paper is used in many ways. Trees may be cut down for forest management reasons, also. One reason is to limit a wildfire's ability to spread. This may be done in an emergency to combat an active fire, or in a methodically planned long-term harvest. Certain types of wildlife benefit from recovering forests after harvest: the snowshoe hare and its predator the Canada lynx are two that come to mind. Many animals benefit from edge habitat created by responsible logging. As the previous contributor said, deforestation can be good. Particularly if the forest in question is unmanaged. You see, though all plants consume carbon dioxide, some consume more than others. Young, rapidly-growing plants consume much more carbon dioxide, on a per acre basis, than mature trees. Moreover, in an unmanaged forest, net carbon dioxide consumption is actually zero. This is because when trees die, they rot, and in doing so release all of the carbon stored over their lives, to combine with oxygen in the atmosphere to form carbon dioxide. In a mature, unmanaged forest, the carbon dioxide released by dying trees balances that being consumed by living trees, and the net is zero. To some extent, trees can store carbon in the soil beneath them, slightly lowering the amount that is released into the atmosphere when they die. However, in rain forests in particular, the soils are very thin and cannot contain much carbon at all. Also, the Amazon Rain Forest is home to about half of all insects in the world, and insects produce more carbon dioxide, just by breathing, than all human activities, including fossil fuel burning. If the Amazon Rain Forest were harvested (not burned, just cut) and replanted with a fast-growing species of tree (say, pine), and that new forest was managed carefully (including regualr harvesting) to maximize carbon dioxide consumption and sequestration, we would be much better off in terms of carbon dioxide consumption. When the trees (both the initial rain forest trees and the replacement pine trees) are cut, they would be converted to lumber, or simply treated to prevent rotting, making them very efficient long-term carbon storage devices, and keeping billions of tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. I've done the calculations, and with the combination of higher carbon dioxide consumption by plants and lower carbon dioxide production by insects (they would die when they lose their habitat), we would need to cut only about 1/6 of the Amazon Rain Forest to completely offset all human-industrial carbon dioxide emissions. One more note. Burning the forest is not a good idea. Burning immediately releases carbon into the atmosphere to form carbon dioxide, as opposed to the gradual process that occurs when the trees die and rot. The World Meteorological Organization and other official centers as the KNMI in Netherlands, have concluded that deforestation is one of the causes behind the negative consequences in climate changes at a global scale. Deforestation is never a problem that can be solved after it happens, reforestation with pines or other not native species will only add to the loss of environmental balance at the area, given that the new species are not suited for the native wildlife or conditions, producing secondary changes in the microclimate and the local habitat. It does not exist any scientific study that can remotely assert that the metabolism of insects has any relation with or sizable impact on environmental and climate changes. Human activities including deforestation and gas emissions have been proven to be the main reasons for such changes. Plants and animals in the natural world typically benefit from one type of habitat or another, or else benefit from living along the boundaries between two habitat types. Animals that are specifically adapted to live in the forest cannot usually survive if their habitat is taken away. However, deforestation may benefit certain other animals, particularly grazing animals. It is for this reason that humans clear forests such as the Amazon for cattle grazing. Many birds benefit from having two habitats next to each other; the forest provides security but little food while the open field provides food but relatively little security. Living along the boundary allows these types of animals to benefit from the strengths of both habitats. Deer are another example of an animal that may benefit from "edge" habitat.

Similarly, plants have differing sunlight and moisture requirements. In general, forest plants have broad leaves to catch what little sunlight falls on the forest floor, but those big leaves have a larger moisture requirement. Plants that live in the open have an abundance of sunlight and consequently little moisture; grass, for example. Take away the trees, and the plants that lived in the forest get cooked by the abundance of sunlight and die. == ==
Some people think it's good for the economy, but most people think its really bad. Or maybe it just depends what side are you on. Are you for the economy, or the sake of wildlife.