Forests cover 31% of the land area on our planet. They produce vital oxygen and provide homes for people and wildlife. Many of the world’s most threatened and endangered animals live in forests, and 1.6 billion people rely on the benefits that forests offer, including food, fresh water, clothing, traditional medicine and shelter.
But forests around the world are under threat from deforestation, jeopardizing these benefits. Deforestation comes in many forms, including fires, clear-cutting for agriculture, ranching and development, unsustainable logging for timber, and degradation due to climate change. These impact people’s livelihoods and threaten a wide range of plant and animal species. Some 46-58 thousand square miles of forest are lost each year—equivalent to 48 football fields every minute.
The forest therefore plays a special role in the life of man. In terms of the volume and diversity of their ecological functions, forests differ among all natural complexes.
The most common cause of forest destruction is deforestation without sufficient planting of new trees. In addition, forests can be destroyed due to natural causes such as fire, hurricane or flood, as well as other anthropogenic factors, such as acid rain.
The destruction of forests leads to a decrease in biodiversity, timber reserves for industrial use and quality of life, and also to the intensification of the greenhouse effect due to a decrease in the amount of photosynthesis.
Destruction of forests has a huge number of side effects; it is the main cause of environmental problems such as desertification, soil degradation, flood, mudflow formation, siltation of waterways, destruction of wildlife habitats, extinction of animal and plant species.
What is a forest?
A forest is used in various branches of the national economy, and serves as a source of chemicals produced by processing wood, bark, and needles. The forest supplies raw materials to produce more than 20 thousand products. Almost half of the world's wood is spent on fuel, and a third goes to the production of building materials.
The first forests appeared on Earth more than 300 million years ago, and gradually became the most widespread natural system. The epochs of geological history changed, old ones disappeared and new forests appeared, but from each epoch on Earth something remained, giving a unique originality to all forests.
1. Purifies the air
2. Creates animal habitats
3. Protects the soil from erosion
4. Retains precipitation (reduces surface runoff)
5. Creates a favorable microclimate for agricultural plants
6. Secures the sands
7. Prevents water pollution.
The term deforestation appeared in the world scientific literature only in recent decades, but is applied as widely as desertification or soil degradation.
Experts consider industrial logging, pollution, recreation, and forest fires as the most important reasons for this problem.
Deforestation is one of the oldest forms of human activity. First, people would cut down individual trees, or small groups of trees, but then went on to cut down entire sections of the forest. Now, a powerful technique allows one to cut trees in a huge area in just a few days.
This leads to profound ecological changes in the region, where the disappearance of woody vegetation is noted. These changes affect all components of nature.
In recent years, the process of deforestation has been significantly influenced by environmental pollution, primarily of the atmosphere. Pollution of the atmosphere often leads to degradation of forest areas. Forest communities are sensitive to the increase in the content of sulfur dioxide in the environment, which is manifested in the occurrence of disastrous acid rains.
In Canada, atmospheric precipitation has become 30-40 times more acidic than in the pre-industrial period (the end of the 19th century), because of which growth has sharply decreased and natural regeneration has deteriorated.
Pollution of forests
Anthropogenic pollution is divided into material (dust, ash, etc.) and physical, or energy (thermal energy, noise, electric and etc.). Material pollution, in turn, is divided into mechanical, chemical, and biological.
The mechanical impurities are solid particles in the soil. In the forest, you can find household production waste—landfills. Think about their impact on the forest system. What is their impact on forest dwellers and human health?
Chemical contamination refers to all kinds of gaseous, liquid and solid chemical compounds and elements that enter the atmosphere, and hydrosphere, and come into contact with the environment (acids, alkalis, sulfur dioxide, and emulsions). For example, the combination of negligibly small amounts of ethylene with carbon monoxide makes it difficult for plants to breathe, causing loss of leaves, buds and leading to their death.
Acid rain is a serious danger to the forest. It affects the processes of photosynthesis and respiration of plants, and, as a result, the growth and quality of forest plantations is slowing down.
In biological pollution, there are all kinds of organisms that cause diseases of the forest and cause significant damage to it. Energy pollution is of a physical nature. It includes all types of radiated energy: thermal, mechanical, ionizing radiation, electromagnetic waves, and sound waves.
Measures to combat pollution of forests
Different types of pollution can have a damaging effect on the forest, so it is necessary to take measures to prevent further contamination.
The complex of technological measures to combat forest pollution includes the development and implementation of modern industrial technologies that reduce the emission of pollutants into the atmosphere and hydrosphere.
The real path is a gradual transition to low-waste technologies associated with the integrated use of wood, and the creation of special forestry machines. The legal measures include the establishment, and enforcement, of legislative acts on the protection of forests.
Economic activities involve, first of all, the investment of cash, in shifts, and the development of new production technologies.
Sanitary and hygienic measures are implemented through compliance with existing, and development of new, sanitary and hygienic indicators of the state of forests.