Monday, April 22, 2013

The Problem - What is deforestation?

Something to think about:

What are forests?
Forests are very productive natural ecosystems. Forests store more carbon than any other kind of ecosystem, which make them very important when absorbing carbon dioxide. Also, forests are important for the control of precipitation levels and to control the soil level of minerals, controlling the levels of erosion and controlling floods by stopping sedimentation processes (Lerner et al, 2003). Forests provide habitat for species of plants, animals and microorganisms, being those species required a forest to live. The global area of forest of all kinds was about 8.4 billion acres (3.4 billion ha) in 1990.  
Deforestation is the process of forests by the action of mankind, and converting forest to other kinds of ecosystem, such as agriculture or urbanized land. It happens for several reasons, such as exploration of wood, opening to agriculture areas or to creation of animals. Wood is one of the most important harvested products in the forests, being material for production of paper, lumber, plywood and other products (242). There are many methods and reasons that lead to deforestation, as we will further see. The goal in this research blog is to find out what is the connection between deforestation and the threats presented to human security. The model presented in this blog is a way to find out how deforestation affects and threats human security. The analysis will look at the factors that lead to deforestation, and the process in which deforestation threatens human security, and apply this model to different case studies to test the connections.

 Underlying Factors
 Primary factors             =>             Deforestation  =>         Threats to human security

For now, we will see how deforestation happens, and why we should worry about it. Deforestation is a global concern, as the consequences from deforestation in a specific place can be shared in various ways throughout the whole globe. Deforestation counts for 12 to 17% of all gas emissions (Schroeder, 2010), which contributes to global warming, that can lead to several consequences throughout the world, such as desertification, melting of glaciers, migration, agricultural issues, epidemics and environmental disasters.

Also, there are many drivers of deforestation, as you can see in “Causes”. The reasons leading to deforestation and underlying factors vary “widely across countries, regions and localities (Schroeder, 2010).”Also, the economical importance of the activities that lead to deforestation varies as well, in the local, regional and national level (319).

Did you know? 

  • If the global average in temperature rises in about 4 to 5 degrees Celsius, several species of fishes and other water animals will become extinct (William et al, 2010).
  • 90% of the around 1.2 billion people living under the poverty line depend on forest resources to live. (GCP, 2008).
  • According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), from the United Nations (2006), about 13 million hectares of tropical forests are deforested every year (an area of the size of Peru). 

Photo from 

According to the Global Forest Resources Assessment of 2010 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Africa and South America have the largest loss of forest in the worldwide. Also, forests serve as natural carbon storage, storing 650 billion tons of carbon. However, due to deforestation, not only this carbon storage is going down by 0.5 GT every year from 2005 to 2010 due to decrease in global forest area, but also more carbon is being emitted into the atmosphere in the process of deforestation, such as fires (45).
 Another problem in deforestation is the fact that tropical rainforests are home to more than half of all species in the planet, and there is a big difference between primary forests (those that are untouched by humans) amount of animal and plants species from the number of species that live in reforested areas (86). It is also known that the main cause for deforestation is human activity, which means that the future of deforestation is, therefore, in our hands.
            In Europe and United States there are almost no native forests left (Schroeder, 2010). Also, the process of deforestation is occurring for thousands of years, but has been intensified as population grows and consumption levels rise. Deforestation should be a concern shared throughout the world, as its consequences can be fatal to human life on Earth, as we will further see. 
            There are many consequences to deforestation, and this consequences can be direct and indirect threats to human security, as many of them interfere with the ability of people be provided and help in the process of providing for their own basic needs. Some consequences can be more direct, such as threat to people's lives, which is the case of several indigenous population living on forests and depend directly on the forests for food and shelter. Deforestation can also be the underlying factor behind global warming and climate change, which in return will bring increase in temperatures, increase in number of extreme weather and many other consequences that the whole global population will be exposed to. The problem and its consequences need to be understood to cause awareness and a perception of urgency in this matter. 

Work Cited:
          Schroeder, Heike. "Agency In International Climate Negotiations: The Case Of Indigenous Peoples And Avoided Deforestation." International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law & Economics 10.4 (2010): 317-332. Environment Complete. Web. 16 Apr. 2013.
          Irwin, William, and Brian Williams. "An Ethical Defense Of Global-Warming Skepticism." Reason Papers 32.(2010): 7-28. Humanities International Complete. Web. 20 Apr. 2013.
          Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Global forest resources assessment 2010 : main report [Electronic resource]. - Rome : FAO, 2010. - xxxi, 340p. - FAO forestry paper; No. 163 .
          "Forests and Deforestation." World of Earth Science. Ed. K. Lee Lerner and Brenda Wilmoth Lerner. Vol. 1. Gale Cengage, 2003.18 Apr, 2013 <>
          GLOBAL CANOPY PROGRAM. The Little REDD Book: A guide to Governmental and non-governmental proposals for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation. 2008. Disponível em: www.the