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Definition of Deforestation

Definition of Deforestation



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Published by: akhileshmoney on Jan 14, 2009
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What is deforestation? The green definition of deforestation is the destruction of a forest andchanging the use of the land.Many people are concerned about the fact that there is no official or common definition of deforestation. For instance, should it also be used to describe forests where the nature of thetrees have changed, such as replacing slow growing indigenous trees with fast growingwoods, meaning that the precious eco-system of the forest is destroyed?Deforestation is the conversion of forested areas to non-forested land, for uses such as:pasture, urban use, logging purposes, and can result in arid land and wastelands. Theremoval or destruction of significant areas of forest cover has resulted in an alteredenvironment with reduced biodiversity. In many countries, deforestation is ongoing and isshaping climate and geography. Deforestation results from removal of trees withoutsufficient reforestation, and results in declines in habitat and biodiversity, wood for fuel andindustrial use, and quality of life. Forests disappear naturally as a result of broad climatechange, fire, hurricanes or other disturbances, however most deforestation in the past40,000 years has been anthropogenic. Human induced deforestation may be accidental suchas in the case of forests in Europe adversely affected by acid rain.[1] Improperly appliedlogging, fuelwood collection, fire management or grazing can also lead to unintentionaldeforestation.[2] However, most anthropogenic deforestation is deliberate. The term deforestation is used to describe the process of removing the trees in forests andwoodland and converting the land to other use.Since ancient times, man has been adapting the environment to meet the growing needs of civilizations. From the cutting down of the first trees for fire, through to the clearing of woodlands to settlers to build their homesteads, trees have long been at the mercy of man.In many parts of the world huge areas of woodlands and forests have been cleared over thecenturies to both provide wood for essential purposes such as fuel, ships and building, andalso to free the land for other use.Over recent years, however, we have become more aware of the wider issues of deforestation and the harm that it causes our planet. Just because this is something we havebeen doing for centuries does not mean that it is right, or that we have the right to continue.Likewise, we cannot judge history by contemporary standards, and while we now know theissues of deforestation we cannot condemn the practice in the past. The historic clearing of forests was to allow civilizations to grow and flourish, while many of the forests cleared todayare for economic reasons only. We now know that 80 percent of the world´s ancient forestshave been destroyed. This situation has changed however, and issues surrounding deforestation are known andrecognized. Back in the 1980´s the issues of preserving the rain forests of South Americastarted to become high profile and artists such as Sting helped raise awareness. Despite this,in the past 30 years aggressive deforestation has continued -- and much of it has beenillegal.
Prehistory Deforestation has been practiced by humans for tens of thousands of years beforethe beginnings of civilization[104]. Fire was the first tool that allowed humans to modify thelandscape. The first evidence of deforestation appears in the Mesolithic period.[105] It wasprobably used to convert closed forests into more open ecosystems favourable to gameanimals[106]. With the advent of agriculture, fire became the prime tool to clear land forcrops. In Europe there is little solid evidence before 7000 BC. Mesolithic foragers used fire tocreate openings for red deer and wild boar. In Great Britain shade tolerant species such asoak and ash are replaced in the pollen record by hazels, brambles, grasses and nettles.Removal of the forests led to decreased transpiration resulting in the formation of uplandpeat bogs. Widespread decrease in elm pollen across Europe between 8400-8300 BC and7200-7000 BC, starting in southern Europe and gradually moving north to Great Britain, mayrepresent land clearing by fire at the onset of Neolithic agriculture.An array of Neolithic artifacts, including bracelets, axe heads, chisels, and polishing tools. The Neolithic period saw extensive deforestation for farming land.[107][108] Stone axeswere being made from about 3000 BC not just from flint, but from a wide variety of hardrocks from across Britain and North America as well. They include the noted Langdale axeindustry in the English Lake District, quarries developed at Penmaenmawr in North Walesand numerous other locations. Rough-outs were made locally near the quarries, and somewere polished locally to give a fine finish. This step not only increased the mechanicalstrength of the axe, but also made penetration of wood easier. Flint was still used fromsources such as Grimes Graves but from many other mines across Europe.Evidence of deforestation has been found in Minoan Crete; for example the environs of thePalace of Knossos were severely deforested in the Bronze Age.Rainforest deforestation The difficulties of estimating deforestation ratesare nowhere more apparent than in the widelyvarying estimates of rates of rainforestdeforestation. At one extreme Alan Grainger, of Leeds University, argues that there is no credibleevidence of any longterm decline in rainforestarea [116] while at the other some environmentalgroups argue that one fifth of the world's tropicalrainforest was destroyed between 1960 and 1990,that rainforests 50 years ago covered 14% of theworlds land surface and have been reduced to6%.[117] and that all tropical forests will be goneby the year 2090 [118]. While the FAO states that the annual rate of tropical closed forestloss is declining [119](FAO data are based largely on reporting from forestry departments of individual countries)[120] from 8 million has in the 1980s to 7 million in the 1990s someenvironmentalists are stating that rainforest are being destroyed at an ever-quickeningpace.[121] The London-based Rainforest Foundation notes that "the UN figure is based on adefinition of forest as being an area with as little as 10% actual tree cover, which would

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