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Wildlife and Deforestation
Deforestation has been a major controversy with environmentalists. Many people argue the benefits of deforestation, but they overlook the negative effects it has. People who support deforestation can explore the economic benefits of deforestation. Deforestation may have economic benefits, but regardless, the negatives far outweigh the positives. Deforestation destroys the natural habitats of animals. When a species’ natural habitat is destroyed, it becomes difficult for that species to adapt – causing extinction. The end result of deforestation is a major decline in biodiversity.
In the article, The Benefits of Deforestation, Nathalie Fiset focuses primarily on the economic benefits of deforestation. She claims that wood products are one of the most durable construction materials in human society and that people cannot live without wood products (Tribes). This is true to an extent, but we are evolving into a paperless society. Nowadays, almost everything is run electronically. For example, people can pay almost any bill online now; there is no paper involved in this. Also, when people vote, they do it electronically. No more paper ballots. There is no reason to cut down so many trees when human society is learning to live without paper products. Most paper companies today use recycled materials, not trees.
Another point that Tribes makes is that deforestation can create many jobs. She points out that when environmentalists go against deforestation, it causes many people who work with wood products to lose those jobs (Tribes). When deforestation is put into perspective, is it really worth it? People can always get up and find another job. When these people destroy the homes of millions of people, those animals have nowhere else to go. It’s harder for animals to just go find a new home. It takes generations to adapt to the new environment. When these workers lose their jobs, there are many environmentally friendly jobs these workers can go to. For example, they can monitor forests and wildlife instead of cutting down trees and destroying natural habitats. Another job alternative is to work for a paper recycling company. Instead of cutting down trees, they can save trees by recycling used paper. Instead of destroying natural habitats, these workers can work for a company that stands for something good.
Fiset believes that when companies destroy a forest, they can easily make up for what they have lost by planting more trees in the place of the old ones (Fiset). When loggers cut down trees, they can’t just plant more trees and leave it at that. There are many different types of trees in a single forest and it takes hundreds of years to create a voluminous forest that largely supports biodiversity and all the wildlife that inhabits it. Usually when forests are destroyed, companies only plant one or two species of trees to compensate for what they removed. Some animals need a specific tree to live or raise a family. When people plant only a single tree, it can be difficult for them to adapt, eventually causing extinction. When natural habitats are destroyed into nothing, most of the animals are killed in the process or some of them escape. However, when the animals return, their home is completely gone. For example, many birds that had nests in different types of trees that were destroyed now have to raise their family in an open field only looking for a predator to eat this offspring of birds. This is because they cannot adapt quickly enough to support themselves on this new tree. When a species goes extinct, there is no going back. Once they’re gone, they’re gone forever.
The last claim she makes is that the destruction of forests can help find more natural resources, such as oil, natural gas, and coal (Tribes). The automotive industry is starting a new revolution with more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly cars. The United States is slowly shifting away from natural, non-renewable resources. The effects of burning coal greatly contributed to global warming with a dramatic decrease in O-ZONE levels, which protect the Earth from the sun’s harmful UV rays. As a result, coal is not the main thing we should be looking for. There are many other ways of electricity. There is wind power, solar power, geothermal power, hydropower and tidal wave power. All of these energy sources do not require natural resources, and all are renewable and cause little or no harm to the Earth. If deforestation continues on the way it is going, then many other species will decline.
In the Amazon forest, there are thousands of different organisms. One particular study done by the scientists was to record how the stingless bee adapted to deforestation. According to the article, these certain types of bees are important not only to the environment, but also to humans economically and culturally. Many people would say that bees are not important, but for the people who live in the Amazon and the areas around the Amazon, bees are sacred. Some people even consider these stingless bees as pets. The stingless bee produces honey which has a variety of different uses. People can obviously eat the honey or use it in certain recipes and they can use it to make Balche, which is an alcoholic drink. Another benefit of these bees is the pollination of farmers’ crops. If there are no bees, then there are no food-producing crops for farmers to sell.
In a study done on these stingless bees, scientists went to different areas of the Amazon that were being affected by deforestation and collected the bees to see how they were adapting to the deforestation. As a result, they found seven different species of stingless bees, but only two of those species appeared to be unaffected by deforestation (McCoy and Mushinski). So that means five of the stingless bee species are vulnerable to extinction. This is just one example of how deforestation can destroy a species.
Another example of animals at risk due to deforestation are ring-tailed lemurs. These monkeys live in Madagascar, but since the human population has expanded rapidly in Madagascar, companies are clearing forests and destroying the lemur’s habitat. Many scientists believe that lemurs are what make a rainforest healthy (Butler). There are only about 50 species of lemurs left. Deforestation is putting a lot of pressure on these lemurs living in Madagascar. Evidence shows that there are so many different types of species that are affected by deforestation, from bees to monkeys.
Clearing trees to build farms, cities and homes simply destroys natural habitats. These are just the main effects. There are other effects of deforestation that most people overlook. An example of a secondary effect of deforestation is pollutants brought into the forest. When a company is clearing an acre of forest, they bring in trucks to deposit that pollutant harmful to wildlife. Researchers have found that thousands of harmful chemicals enter the natural environment that disrupt the nervous, immune, endocrine, and reproductive cycles of animals that come into contact with these chemicals (Hose and Guillette 87). This also has a major effect on endangered species, because when affected by these pollutants, it can be difficult for them to reproduce. This means that the population of endangered species will not increase, making extinction less difficult.
However, there are some solutions that people can do to help prevent harmful products from entering the natural environment. One solution may be to keep very close watch on toxins exposed to the environment. This will limit the amount of chemicals that can pollute the environment and get the reproduction cycles back on track. Another solution could be to know the chemicals that are distributed in these environments. Once people know how bad these chemicals really are, then they can stop using them. The final solution is to create model ecosystems, such as restoration facilities, to help reform the endocrine system (Hose and Guillette 88-89).
Although deforestation has greatly affected wildlife, there are several organizations that are trying to help some of the animals that are struggling in the wild. These organizations create restoration programs for endangered animals. Scientists can measure the success rate of these objects, and the success rate is usually very high. It is easier to measure success one object at a time (McCoy and Mushinski). Deforestation may be destroying the lives of some animals, but when people take small steps towards helping the natural environment it is one step closer to ultimately helping an endangered species.
There are many examples of how deforestation can be beneficial, but many simply look at what it can do for people. Supporters want to destroy habitats to find natural resources that can and will destroy this planet. Global warming is rampant and deforestation is just adding more fuel to the fire. Also, when one hectare of forest is destroyed, that means the homes of millions of animals are destroyed. When the homes of these animals that live in those forests that are cleared every day are gone, they have no protection for themselves and their offspring. This is a big problem for biodiversity. Every day thousands of species disappear, drastically reducing the Earth’s biodiversity. Deforestation has many benefits for people, but it is a big problem for the natural environment.
Butler, Rhett A. “Lemurs are key to the health of Madagascar’s rainforests.” Mongabay. 2008. May 5, 2009.
Tribes, Natalie. “Benefits of Deforestation.” Ezinearticles. April 30, 2009.
Hose, JE & Guillette, LJ “Determining the role of pollutants in the distribution of reproduction in wildlife.” Environmental Health Perspectives 103 (1995): 87-91. JSTOR. Western Illinois University Library. April 02, 2009
Brown, Christopher J. and Albrecht, Christian. “Impact of tropical deforestation on stingless bees of the genus Melipona.” Journal of Biogeography. 28.5 (2001): 623-634. JSTOR. Western Illinois University Library. April 02, 2009
McCoy, Earl D and Mushinski, Henry R. “Measuring Wildlife Community Restoration Success.” Ecological Applications. 12.6 (2002): 1861-1871. JSTOR. Western Illinois University Library. April 02, 2009
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