Tropical Deforestation

Essay by ironicHigh School, 12th gradeA-, March 2004

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The clearing of tropical forests has been occurring worldwide on a large-scale basis for many centuries. This process, known as deforestation, involves the cutting down, burning, and damaging of forests. The loss of tropical rain forest is more profound than merely destruction of beautiful areas. If the current rate of deforestation continues, the world's rain forests will vanish within 100 years-causing unknown effects on global climate and eliminating the majority of plant and animal species on the planet.

Why Deforestation Happens

There are many reasons for deforestation. Most of the clearing is done for agricultural purposes-grazing cattle, planting crops the area (typically a few acres) is cleared and then the tree trunks are burned - a process called Slash and Burn agriculture the burning creates short term nutrience for crops to grow on. This way of living is known as subsistence farming. It is continually occurring, as the tropical rain forest soil is actually low in nutrience.

This is because the trees and plants use all of the nutrience. This means that the cleared area will only last for one crop (season) and will then be infertile and the farmer has to move on to another 'patch'. Charities and various organisations are trying to re-educate the subsistence farmers in the rain forest as a way of trying to stop this process from happening. (See diagrams below)

Slash and burn farming, tree cutting, and destructive environmental practices are all linked to the economic plight of the rural population.

Commercial logging is another common form of deforestation. This consists of cutting trees for sale as timber or pulp. Logging can occur selectively-where only the economically valuable species are cut-or by clear cutting, where all the trees are cut. Commercial logging uses heavy machinery, such as bulldozers, road graders, and log skidders,