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Deforestation: Causes, Consequences and Efforts to Control It

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The e ects of deforestation is observed as a loss of biodiversity, adverse e ects


on natural phenomenon like rainfall, atmospheric quality, oods and
landslides, soil erosion and scarcity of timber, fuel wood, fodder and other
forest products.

Deforestation: Causes, Consequences and E orts to Control It!

According to 1993 World development report deforestation is de ned as the


permanent conservation of the forest land to other uses including pasture,
shifting cultivation, mechanised agriculture or infrastructural development.
The phenomenon of deforestation can be explained in terms of loss of forest,
mainly due to unplanned urbanization, increased industrialization and mining
activities.

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The e ects of deforestation is observed as a loss of biodiversity, adverse e ects


on natural phenomenon like rainfall, atmospheric quality, oods and
landslides, soil erosion and scarcity of timber, fuel wood, fodder and other
forest products.

Causes:
Some important causes for large scale deforestation are outlined as follows:

1. Encroachment of forest land to agriculture:


Rapid growth of population, inequitable land distribution and expansion of
export agriculture have reduced the crop land to greater extent. Therefore, the
subsistence farmers are forced to grow food by clearing forests.

2. Over grazing:

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The overgrazing in the forest lands causes serious damage to both seedling and
older trees.

3. High demand for timber:

High demand of developed and developing countries for hard timber and
plywood have ruined the worlds tropical forests.

4. Shifting or jhum cultivation:

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Shifting cultivation is adopted mainly by the tribal peoples which involves


clearing of forest land for cultivation. It is estimated that nearly 5000 km2 of
forest land is cleared for this purpose.

5. Clearance for settlement:

Sometimes, the people from over-crowded areas are settled by the government
by clearing forests.

6. Natural factors:

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Natural factors like ood, drought, re, decline of water level, cyclonic storm,
lightening, snowfall, and diseases earth quake etc. cause massive
deforestation.
7. Forest re:

The forest re (natural or deliberate) can cause deforestation to a larger extent.

8. Wrong government policies:

The deforestation is also due to wrong policies adopted by the government to


collect revenue from products in the name of providing employment to tribals.

9. Demand for fuel wood:

The reliance of rural people for wood as a source of energy (fuel) is also a valid
cause for forest denudation. Moreover, the demand pulls of the urban sectors
where fuel wood commands exorbitant price, leads to large scale deforestation.

10. Clearance for forest plantation:

now a days, an attempt has been made to replace natural forests by new
plantations that are high yielding in timber production.

Consequences of Deforestation:
The process of deforestation has the following detrimental impacts on life,
property and environment of the living systems on the earth:

1. Soil erosion:

The depletion of top soil is resulted due to massive deforestation. The loss of
top soil decreases the productivity there by putting a stress on availability of
food grain.

2. Flood and drought:

Deforestation is directly responsible for greater frequency and intensity of


oods and droughts. As per Birla Institute of Scienti c research, the Great
Indian Desert is advancing at the rate of almost one kilometer per year, due to
rapid deforestation.

3. Environmental refugees:

Depletion of forests in developing countries is interlinked with population


growth, poverty, illiteracy, urban migration, rural ecosystem etc. Being unable
to support their growing population due to deforestation, there happens
migration rural people towards urban areas which causes big slums, pollution
and sanitation problems, break out of epidemics etc.

4. Global warming:

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the environment becomes higher and


higher due to the depletion of forests which are well known absorber of C02.
Increase in C02 concentration in environment causes global warming due to
green house e ect.

5. Fuel wood scarcity:

The availability of fuel wood becomes di cult due to deforestation and there
happens a sharp rise in the price of fuel wood. Increase in price of fuel wood
exerts high pressure on rural people and induces illegal extraction of wood.

6. Depletion of large number of species:

Depletion of forests has caused extinction of a number of species and their


natural habitats.

Efforts to Control Deforestation:


In order to check the detrimental e ects due to deforestation, the following
control measures should be undertaken:
(i) All nations should promote the regeneration of degraded forest lands to
increase permanent forest cover, reduce pressure on natural forest, conserve
biodiversity, protect water sheds and soils and stabilize climax.

(ii) There should be a concerted e ort to prevent encroachment pressures by


providing land security to small and landless farmers through land tenure law,
land reform or agarian reform.

(iii) There should be proper modi cation in the development schemes (i.e.,
mining, hydroelectric, road building, plantation etc.) to minimise their direct
and indirect impacts on natural forests.

(iv) Over grazing in forest areas should be regulated by government.

(v) There should be e orts to relieve pressure on forests by decreasing waste in


wood processing, increasing the e ciency of wood burning stoves and seeking
alternative raw materials.

(vi) Ecological stability should receive precedence over the economic stability
in the matter of forest growth.

(vii) E orts should be made to involve local people, NGOs and forest
department in developing degraded fore; t lands as well as conserving the
existing forests.

(viii) There should be e ort to encourage sustainable forest management in


order to maintain ecological balance.

(ix) Public awareness should be created against the hazards of deforestation.

(x) Forest should be honoured not as a source of revenue but as a global asset
to be protected for the well being of the globe.
In view of the vital importance of the forest in maintaining ecological balance
and preserving biophysical system of the environment, the Government of
India has revised the old forest policy of 1952 in 1988.

The main objectives of the revised policy are:

(i) To maintain ecological stability by adopting appropriate measures of


environment protection, conservation and restoration.

(ii) To prevent the natural traditions by conserving the remaining natural


forests as well as to conserve the vast original resources for the bene t of
future generation.

(iii) To meet the basic requirements of the rural people and tribal people for
the rewood, fodder and small timbers.

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