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Deforestation – environmental & human effects

Rainforest Deforestation

Rainforest Deforestation

There are many types of forest in the world from Temperate Forest to Tropical forest. The one thing all forests have in common is that the trees in them act as the lungs to our planet converting CO2 to Oxygen.  In addition, forests provide a canopy or shading of the earth which helps maintain temperatures forming a cooling band around the earth. Forest ecosystems also provide medical value, provide habitat for animal species threatened with extinction and have spiritual value.

Deforestation has become a growing concern amongst environmentalist. Forests are measured in hectares. Each hectare is 10,000 sq. meters or approximately 2.47 acres. As of 2005 there were approximately 1,442,819,000 hectares of forest on earth. The average deforestation rate from 2000 to 2005 was 6,855,997 hectares a year. At this rate of deforestation we could eliminate all natural Forest within 200 years. Eight thousand years ago 40% of the world’s land area was covered in forest or 6,000 million hectares. This was more four times the amount of remaining forest on earth today. The process of deforestation accelerated to alarming proportions in the last half of the 20th century.

In addition to deforestation reducing the earths ability to cool itself by converting CO2 to oxygen and their canopy effect, it is estimated that deforestation generates between 25 and 30% of the greenhouse gases on earth. This is greater than carbon emissions caused by planes and automobiles. Along with threatening the earths ability to heal and cleans itself, Deforestation also threatens our access to medicines.

According to some reports 70 to 80% of Brazil’s and Indonesia’s carbon emissions are caused by deforestation. From 2000-2005, almost half of the worlds deforestation happened in these two countries. What most people ignore is that the most notorious agents of deforestation were the ranchers taking advantage of government subsidies to expand the cattle industry. It makes one wonder what the effects of billions of people being introduced to fast food hamburgers will have on changing our world’s climate and ability to sustain the biodiversity of life as we know it today.

Some statistics show the US gaining 159,000 hectares of forest per year. These numbers are a bit deceiving since this includes plantations added to the picture. These are not natural forest. They are managed for growth and have environmental ramifications such as use of fertilizers, pesticides and destruction of balanced ecosystems.

Twenty five percent of prescription drugs are derived from plants. For example, Aspirin originally came from willow bark. One of the concerns of pharmaceutical drugs formulated in a laboratory is that they are mostly based on a single compound. Naturally occurring herbs and plants work in a different way and tend to have a low risk of side effects. As we unconsciously continue to exploit our natural environments we destroy cultures and with them hidden knowledge and wisdom which could be offer solutions to much of the suffering experienced by mankind.

A growing concern is that we no longer have wild forest but managed eco systems. Assuming that this is so, the question becomes how to manage our ecosystems in a sustainable way. There are many creative and hopeful approaches being taken by responsible conscious individuals. Below are three videos which address some of these methods.

Harvesting dead trees after forest fires:

Full vigor forestry – growing trees intelligently – select timbering – sustainable forest management:

Proper forest management for sustainability:

If the forests are the lungs of our planet, which I sincerely believe they are, then it is the source for maintaining a healthy heart because without the breath the heart fails. Maybe if we shift our perception just a little to be more holistic and see that just maybe there could be a message hidden in all of what nature does.

In the ancient Hindu culture Green was the color of the Heart energy. When the forest is healthy and flourishing it is very green and able to give to humanity naturally. When we are in our heart, we care and love. When we love and care we take care of that which we love. We can nourish and preserve forests. In other words the hidden message I see is to love the forest – it will love us back ten fold.



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