While it may seem like most deforestation is done by large companies clearing land for logging or paper purposes or development, most trees are actually cut down by individual farmers who need more money. They clear their own land to make room for more agricultural crops or for cattle grazing so they can sell the products for additional money for their families, according to the National Geographic website. Logging and development of new commercial and residential areas are also a reason for cutting down trees.
Consequences of Deforestation
Cutting down trees can help provide the public with wood and paper and many other products, and it can clear space for building houses or new businesses and making way for the ever-spreading urban sprawl. But the negative consequences are just as significant and dangerous to the future of the planet. Less trees means a thinner forest canopy. This means heat isn't held in by the trees in the forest and there are wider temperature swings from day to night. This can be devastating to some plants and animals. The trees also absorb greenhouse gases and produce oxygen. The less trees there are, the less efficient the planet is at sustaining a balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide, both of which are necessary to maintain life of plants and animals. Greenhouse gas buildup also contributes to global warming. The rain forests that are destroyed as a result of deforestation are also the source of 25 percent of the pharmaceuticals that are relied on each day.
The pace of deforestation has slowed over the years as scientists have made it more clear how much of a negative effect the practice has on the world, but it still goes on at an alarming pace. According to the Rain Tree website, forests once covered 14 percent of the planet, but deforestation has reduced that coverage to around 6 percent. One and a half acres of rain forest alone is lost every second to deforestation. In western countries that are highly developed, around 90 percent of the forests have disappeared because of cutting down trees, according to the Effects of Deforestation website.
Environmental website Rain Tree estimates that over the first quarter of the 21st century half of all plants, animals and microorganisms will become extinct because of deforestation. It is estimated that 137 species of plants, animals and insects disappear each day due to these practices, meaning 50,000 species a year become extinct.