Deforestation | EVS Grade 4 Learning Concepts Orchids International
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Concept: Deforestation

What is deforestation?

Deforestation is the clearance or removal of forest-covered areas by cutting down trees extensively in a forest.

People have been cutting down trees for many years. But, nowadays, large areas covered with trees are reducing rapidly due to deforestation. It poses a considerable problem as it affects the environment in many ways.

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Causes of deforestation:

1. Commercial logging:

  • Commercial logging involves cutting down trees to sell them as timber and pulp.
  • Timber is essential in many ways as it is used to make plywood, veneers, and furniture.
  • It is used as a fuel and also in the paper and synthetic textile industries.
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2. Shifting cultivation:

  • Shifting cultivation is a common mode of farming in the humid tropical climate. By using the ‘slash and burn’ method, farmers cut the trees and burn them, then plant crops in the exposed, ash-covered soil for two or three seasons.
  • As the land is cleared out for such agricultural practices, it largely contributes to deforestation.
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3. Urbanisation:

  • Nowadays, trees in the forests are rigorously cut down to expand the living space in large cities.
  • Human population is gradually increasing with time and since opportunities are better in the cities than in villages, more and more people are migrating to live in the city.
  • This is the reason why cities are always congested and continuously expanding.
  • To cope with this scarcity of space, forested areas are cleared to construct buildings and roadways.
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4. Overgrazing:

  • When grazing animals like goats, lambs, cows, sheep, and horses feed on all the foliage growing over a patch of land for a long time, it leads to deforestation.
  • Overgrazing also contributes to soil erosion as the top layer of the soil becomes devoid of any vegetation.
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5. Mining and industrial development:

  • Both mining activities and the construction of industries require massive amounts of vacant land.
  • So, vast areas of forest cover are cleared to make space for mining and industrial activities.
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6. Expansion of agro-based industries:

  • The industries that are directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture are called agro-based industries.
  • Agro-based industries like tea plantations, rubber plantations, coffee plantations, etc., require large areas to function.
  • So, such commercial crops are grown on a large scale on massive plots of land obtained by destroying the natural vegetation of that place which also causes deforestation.

7. Forest fire:

  • Forest fires caused by lightning or volcanic eruption are considered the natural cause of deforestation. However, human activities can also initiate forest fires like burning debris, uncontrolled campfires, etc.
  • Forest fires can spread rapidly, thereby destroying large areas of vegetation.
  • So, it is a major contributor to deforestation and also causes the death of many wild animals and birds.
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Effects of deforestation

1. Climate change and global warming:

  • Plants absorb carbon dioxide gas during photosynthesis. But, in the absence of plants, atmospheric carbon dioxide increases, leading to a rise in global temperature. This phenomenon is called global warming.
  • The polar ice caps are melting, causing the sea level to rise. Thus, the coastal areas are facing the danger of submerging, while the polar animals are looking at habitat loss.
  • All these are resulting in a change in the usual climatic pattern across the Earth, which will eventually disrupt the survival of all living beings.
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2. Loss of natural habitat:

  • Many birds, insects, and animals are inhabitants of the forests.
  • Due to deforestation, they lose their natural habitat, which makes their life difficult.
  • It is not easy for an animal to adapt to a life outside the forest.
  • Due to loss of habitat, the animals wander out to the nearby settlements, which results in human-animal conflict and animal abuse.
  • As a result, many animals die or are killed, leading to a loss of biodiversity.
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3. Soil erosion:

  • We all know that the roots of plants provide anchorage to the top layer of the soil./li>
  • In the absence of plants, the topsoil gets washed away during heavy rainfalls and landslides, thereby causing soil erosion.

4. Droughts:

  • We all know that plants play a vital role in bringing rainfall.
  • So, lack of trees and vegetation would cause scarcity in rainfall, and if such a dry spell continues for months, it may lead to droughts.
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5. Changes in the rainfall pattern:

  • Plants bring rains and also increase the humidity of the atmosphere.
  • In the absence of plants, rainfall decreases considerably or becomes erratic, thereby changing the rainfall pattern.
  • As a result, agriculture gets badly affected as it heavily depends on rainfall.

6. Desertification:

  • Trees hold the soil together by their roots.
  • Removing the trees leaves the soil bare to wind.
  • As a result, the topsoil is blown away, dried out, or washed away by rain, leading to desertification
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7. Loss of fertile land:

  • As rainfall decreases due to deforestation, the land losses its fertility rapidly.
  • As a result, the growth of vegetation does not happen much.
  • As a result, agriculture gets badly affected as it heavily depends on rainfall.

Ways to control deforestation:

1. Reforestation and afforestation:

  • To control deforestation, the two most effective ways are reforestation and afforestation.
  • Reforestation involves planting trees or allowing trees to regrow on a piece of land that was cleared of its vegetation.
  • Afforestation involves planting trees on land that is not a forested area.
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2. Recycling plant-based products:

  • There are many things that we use in our daily lives that originate from plants like paper, wood, etc.
  • It is a better choice not to throw out these products if they are not in good condition, rather, these can be recycled into other things and reduce the demand for plant-based products.
  • Afforestation involves planting trees on land that is not a forested area.
  • It will lead to less cutting of trees.
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3. Educating people:

  • Educating people about the negative consequences of deforestation is really necessary.
  • It is a better choice not to throw out these products if they are not in good condition, rather, these can be recycled into other things and reduce the demand for plant-based products.
  • We have to make the young people understand how deforestation can disrupt our environment as it causes a loss of biodiversity, there is the occurrence of frequent droughts, fertile lands become infertile, along with global warming and climate change.
  • The government should encourage local non-governmental organisations to take an active part in reforestation and tree plantation programmes.

4. Laws against cutting trees:

  • Cutting down trees in the forest for timber should be done in moderation.
  • The government should make necessary changes in the law so that strict action be taken against people involved in extensive deforestation.

5. Management of the expansion of the cities:

  • Expansion of cities and the migration of people to the cities need to be managed appropriately.
  • The concerned authorities, before approving any development projects in the city, should check whether it requires clearing any forested land and act accordingly.

6. Water management:

  • New dams should be constructed in a proper way so that there will be no deprivation of water for plants and animals in that region.
  • Loss of water can cause the plants to wither away and die.
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New Words

Slash and burn method: A popular method of growing crops in which forested land is cleared and remaining vegetation is burned.

Humidity: It is the amount of water vapour present in the air.

Population: The number of people residing in a specific geographic area.

Atmosphere: The Earth is surrounded by a blanket of different gases, which is collectively called the atmosphere.

Erosion: It is a natural process by which the top layer of the soil gets washed away by rainwater or strong wind.


Did You Know?

  • Due to the smuggling of sandalwood, many forested areas in the state of Karnataka have become barren and vacant.
  • The Amazon rainforest is the largest rainforest which is referred to as the ‘Earth’s lungs’ because it produces 80% of the total oxygen present in the Earth’s atmosphere.
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