Overview of Deforestation
Before going into the advantages and disadvantages of deforestation, I believe it is best to firstly come up with a quick and clear definition of what deforestation actually is -- the cultural 'American Heritage' dictionary sums it up rather well : "The process of destroying a forest and replacing it with something else. The term is used today to refer to the destruction of forests by human beings and their replacement by agricultural systems". To get a comprehensive understanding of the impacts of deforestation check out the truly inspiring video below 'One Million Trees for Ethiopia'.
Deforestation Case Study: Ethiopia
Advantages of Deforestation
1. Provides Jobs and Employment -- Benefiting the Local Economy - deforestation increases demand in the lumber, transportation, construction, manufacturing industries etc. and as a result, more people will become employed -- which has further positive knock on effects for the local economy and the welfare of local people.
2. Extract Limber and Charcoal -- Natural Resources - through deforestation you can extract natural resources such as timber and charcoal that can be used to benefit local businesses and industries for further economic and commercial gains.
3. More Agricultural Land -- Improving Food Production - by clearing out a section of forest and woodlands, you are freeing up land for an alternative use -- in which case is often used for agricultural purposes such as crops. Hence, increasing the food output for the local area and its supply of food.
4. Residential Land -- Further Construction - an alternative use for the new cleared land is to have a build up of residential building which may contribute to the easing of house prices (due to an increase in the supply of houses) as well as there being more land to build on.
5. Removal of Diseased Trees - sometimes the removal of trees are simply due to certain trees simply being diseased or are dead, hence they are serving little purpose. Through deforestation the dead trees can simply be replanted with new healthier trees.
Disadvantages of Deforestation
1. Destroys Environmental Habitats and Wildlife - trees are homes, protection and food source to a whole huge range of animals, insects and varying species. Trees represent the staple figures within an ecosystems, without them the whole system would fail and potentially to lead the extinction of animals on a mass scale ( it is currently estimated that 137 animal, plant and insect species are being lost every day due to deforestation).
2. Potential Soil Erosion - trees prevent the process of desertification (Science American Heritage Science Dictionary Definition: The transformation of land once suitable for agriculture into desert - from human practices such as deforestation ) through binding loose soil with its roots.
3. Global Climate Change Problem - it contributes towards global climate change through the process of the 'greenhouse effect'. It causes carbon dioxide (a contributor of the greenhouse effect) to linger for longer in the air than it would have done if it was not for the deforestation -- most plants are known to remove significant amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through the process of photosynthesis.
4. Impacts the Water Cycle - plants and trees are a fundamental part of the water cycle process -- from which they gather groundwater and then release it back into the atmosphere. So if they are removed (through deforestation) they are not able to release the water through evaporation back into the atmosphere, resulting in a drier climate with less water available for wildlife and humans.
5. Scars the Environment - deforestation causes a visual pollution, it is a shame to go from beautiful healthy green trees to having to look at an almost dirt wasteland type scene. There is also an aspect of noise pollution caused by the actual process of deforestation (e.g. chainsaws) can't be too pleasurable either.
Summary of the Advantages and Disadvantages of Deforestation
On the balance, it is often argued that deforestation can be seen as a rather negative process, where the short term economic benefits fail to overcome the long term positives that 'keeping' the trees present. Besides not only are many of the economic advantages presented by deforestation unsustainable, they have also have alternative sustainable economic incomes through keeping the wildlife and trees through activities such as ecotourism. If you have any additional advantages and disadvantages of deforestation or any general remarks, then I encourage you to please share a comment below.