CONSEQUENCES OF DEFORESTATION
* Alteration of local and global climates through disruption of:
a) The carbon
cycle. Forests act as a major carbon store because carbon dioxide (CO2) is taken up from the atmosphere and used to produce
the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins that make up the tree. When forests are cleared, and the trees are either burnt or rot,
this carbon is released as CO2. This leads to an increase in the atmospheric CO2 concentration. CO2 is the major contributor
to the greenhouse effect. It is estimated that deforestation contributes one-third of all CO2 releases caused by people.
The water cycle. Trees draw ground water up through their roots and release it into the atmosphere (transpiration). In Amazonia,
over half of all the water circulating through the region's ecosystem remains within the plants. With removal of part of the
forest, the region cannot hold as much water. The effect of this could be a drier climate.
* Soil erosion With the
loss of a protective cover of vegetation more soil is lost.
* Silting of water courses, lakes and dams This occurs
as a result of soil erosion.
* Extinction of species which depend on the forest for survival. Forests contain more
than half of all species on our planet - as the habitat of these species is destroyed, so the number of species declines (see
Environmental Facts "Biodiversity").
* Desertification The causes of desertification are complex, but deforestation
is one of the contributing factors (see Environmental Facts "Desertification")