Deforestation: Devastating biodiversity across the globe

Published: 6 October 2016

Deforestation is causing despair not only amongst the human world but also the animal world. Deforestation refers to the act of clearing forest area, usually for the production of palm oil, agriculture and Logging. As consumerism continues to grow, more and more of the rainforest environment across the globe is destructed. The permanent clearing of forest land results in habitat loss, food shortages, distress and even death for many animals. Project Ark Foundation supports a number of species including the Bornean Orangutan and the Borneo Pygmy Elephant, which have seen their population figures drop dangerously as a result of rapidly growing deforestation rates.

What effects has deforestation had on the environment?

The effects of deforestation on the environment can only be described as devastating. If deforestation continues at its current rates, we could potentially see the disappearance of the world’s rainforests within the next century. It has been scientifically proven that trees act as a positive natural fighter against global warming, however, deforestation is speeding up the warming of our planet. With forest soils being naturally damp, when trees are removed, the sun shelter is also removed, resulting in quickly drying soil. In turn, an environment that once stood as a lush forest evolves into a dry, unfertile and open environment resembling that of a desert. Trees are an essential part of our everyday life, which act as a natural controller of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Through the process of photosynthesis, a life depending process, trees transform carbon dioxide into oxygen, essential for all life on the planet. Not only this, but trees usefully absorb otherwise harmful emissions in our planet’s atmosphere, when they are cut down and cleared, the result is an increase of harmful gases lingering in our atmosphere.

How are animal species affected by deforestation?

Each year, deforestation unnecessarily claims the lives of thousands of animals across the globe. Deforestation is continuing to grow, as a result of our consumerist habits. One of the major deforestation drivers, that we have featured on our animal pages, is the demand for Palm oil. The Palm oil industry is an industry with blood on its hands, quite literally. The Borneo rainforests are home to thousands of animal species, including the Bornean Orangutan and the Borneo Pygmy Elephant. Both of these species population figures have drastically declined over the past 70 years, a sad indication of the consequences of man’s interference with the rainforest land. The reason animals die due to deforestation may be for a number of reasons. Primarily, deforestation equals loss of habitat for many, all animals depend on a secure habitat in order to reproduce and live normally. Without the security of their habitats, animals often fail to reproduce and instead suffer from extreme stress. Deforestation also leads to food shortages, Bornean Orangutan’s often confused, roam into agricultural land in search of food, only to be shot and killed. In addition to all of these threats due to deforestation, animals cruelly face death should they get in the way of workers. Many workers who are responsible for clearing forest land are simply told to kill any animals that may be in their work path. Of course, this is illegal, but with little control over the workers themselves, there are animals who have been shot or even poisoned by workers. One example of this was when 10 Borneo Pygmy Elephants were found dead in a reserve located in Malaysia. The investigation into the crime revealed that the elephants had in fact been poisoned deliberately by palm oil workers.

What can be done?

Deforestation is without a doubt a mighty issue to tackle, but nonetheless, it isn’t impossible. In many countries deforestation is monitored, ensuring that the amount of rainforest cleared doesn’t surpass to critical levels. The introduction of reforestation also means that by acting responsible, forest land can be re-planted, giving hope that the forest land will grow back in the future. However, the real responsibility lies within the hands of corporations who ultimately have the money and power to control deforestation rates. Many global companies are pledging to set targets which will raise their environment consciousness and decrease the need for harmful acts such as deforestation.

The main reason for Palm oil production is due to consumerist demands for the product. It is easy to pick up products without paying attention to the ingredients or the production methods of the product itself. Today many products rely on palm oil as a key ingredient. Palm oil acts as a cheap ingredient, thus allowing the manufacturer of the product to reduce the overall production price quite significantly. One way that you can help is to be mindful of the products you are buying, and check products before purchasing them. If you opt for products that do not contain palm oil, you are directly helping to cut down the consumer demand for the deadly ingredient. There are many product alternatives out there, and with a little research and integrity, you can help a wider cause. You can also further reconsider your consumer habits, by opting for a less meat-dependent diet, as mentioned deforestation is also accountable for the creation of new agricultural land. Like many global environmental issues, the main key to creating a brighter future for animals and humans alike is to work together as a wider cause.

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