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Deforestation Essay

1469 words - 6 pages

This paper will discuss deforestation across the globe and how it affects the world’s ecosystems. Everyday, a piece of Earth’s ecosystem is demolished by human hands for the conquest for timber, minerals, and other resources. Forests cover 2% of the Earth’s surface, 6% of the landmass, and yet they house half the animal and plant species while rainforests cover twice that area. Deforestation is occurring across the globe on a scale that if it were continue at its present rate the forests could disappear within the next one to two hundred years. This raises concerns and questions. First, why should we be concerned? Second, what kind of damage could deforestation lead to animal and plant ...view middle of the document...

Areas such as the Philippines and Thailand lost over 50% of their rainforests by 1985. These statistics prove that there is no more powerful reason for wanting to preserve the tropical rainforests.
Major consequences arise for plant and animal species as a result of deforestation. All forms of disturbance displace animals from part or all of their territories. The more extensive the disturbance, the more likely animals in an area will become overcrowded and their populations will decline due to social pressures, limitations on food, and impaired reproductive activity. Even by just removing a few plants, the complex annual calendars of food sources could be disrupted. These annual food source schedules enable many rainforest animals, like the orangutan, to cope with the low density and irregular flowering and fruiting regimes of the plants they eat. Moreover, other plants may be affected if animals on which they rely for pollination or dispersal leave to search for food elsewhere. Furthermore, genetic diversity of individual species is also being degraded. This is a concern to plant breeders because several of these species are commercially valuable crops. Their degradation will threaten our ability to continue breeding new varieties to keep ahead of pests and diseases that threaten products. Several key economic crops that originate in the humid tropics and still grow there today are brazil nut, cashew nut, cocoa, passion fruit, pineapple, rubber, papaya, bamboo, banana, ginger, rice and yam. Crops that grow on the outskirts of the forests have been bred from wild plants to give the best yields under particular environmental conditions. Extracts from the wild plants have been taken in order to make use of specific genetic characteristics from the entire population. It is vital to retain a wide genetic diversity of wild plants so that plant breeders can counter threats to crop productivity caused by new pests and diseases and changing climate. For example, in the Amazon huge sums of money are spent in breeding new groundnut varieties resistant to diseases such as leafspot. Also, some high yielding rice varieties last only two years before being attacked by a new insect pest and needing replacement.
Deforestation is increasing the rate of species extinction so that the plants we are using will disappear along with many animals also. Extinction is an irreversible change and once a species is gone it is lost for good. It occurs naturally at a rate of about one species every two years. Species are put at much risk early on when their numbers drop so low that they could be eliminated by drought, disease or other random events. There are many endangered species found in the tropical rainforests that risk extinction if the present conditions continue. Some examples are the koupray or wild cow of Southeast Asia, of which only 100 individuals remain, the broad-nosed lemur from Madagascar, which is down to just two colonies, and the southern bearded...

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