Deforestation and Its Impact on The Environment - The Green Doctrine

Deforestation And Its Impact On The Environment


Forests are really important to the earth. They provide a natural habitat for countless microorganisms and animals. They are also super useful to humans too. Apart from being beneficial to wildlife and humans, forests play a vital role in the earth’s carbon cycle by balancing greenhouse gas emissions, improving the quality of the air in our atmosphere, and preventing climate change.

However, the very existence of forests is being threatened by deforestation. 

What is deforestation?

The term “deforestation” isn’t a strange term. Deforestation is the reduction in forested areas as a result of the deliberate felling of trees and clearing of forested lands for other purposes like agriculture, urbanization, and construction.

Due to the increase in population and increased need for urbanization, deforestation activities have been quite massive over the years. About 10 million hectares of forest land are lost due to deforestation on a yearly basis. That’s about the size of Portugal being lost every year.

Another interesting fact is the Amazon, the largest of the world's biologically diverse eco-system, now emits a greater amount of carbon dioxide than it is absorbing as a result of deforestation.

These activities of deforestation cause climate change, desertification, soil erosion, fewer crops, flooding, increased greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, and a host of problems for humans and animals.

In this article, I’m going to explain the impact of deforestation on not only the environment but also on plants, animals, and us humans. I’m also going to explain the causes of deforestation and give possible suggestions that can help reduce deforestation. 

Impact of deforestation on the environment

  • It causes climate change.
  • Climate change is one of the biggest threats posed to our planet. Unfortunately, deforestation is one of the major causes of climate change.

    According to research, deforestation dramatically accelerates climate change. Trees are known to absorb carbon dioxide from the environment and slow down the pace of climate change through photosynthesis. 

    Without trees, there’ll be excess carbon dioxide in the environment. High levels of carbon dioxide in the environment trap heat and make the temperature of the earth rise. This causes global warming which leads to climate change. 

    The Amazon rainforest is one of the world's most healthy forests and enormously valuable carbon sinks. However, deforestation is converting the Amazon and other sinks into big emitters of carbon dioxide. 

  • It causes soil erosion
  • Tree roots hold soil in place and stabilize it. Cutting down trees exposes the soil to wind and rain damage which loosens the soil. This significantly increases the rate of soil erosion and worsens its effects. 

    Researchers looked at how deforestation affected loess, a mineral-rich layer of dust and silt in the soil. They discovered that deforestation on the loess in northeastern Iran was fueled by a combination of agriculture, cattle ranching, and wood demand, which increased the loss of soil and nutrients.

    The cost of soil erosion is disproportionately high for developing nations, especially when topsoil—the fertile layer of soil which is necessary for crop growth—is lost. In the late 1980s, deforestation directly caused 770 metric tons of topsoil a year to be lost on Indonesia's Island of Java. An estimated 1.5 million tons of rice that could have provided for the dietary needs of close to 15 million people were lost by local farmers. These farmers saw firsthand the harm deforestation can do to human life and the local community they try to feed.

  • It causes flooding
  • Research has shown that when trees are removed from the environment, the rainy season can have disastrous effects in the form of floods. This is because the roots of trees hold the soil firmly and help to absorb rainwater. The leaves of the trees also act as a canopy cover that helps intercept the rain and reduce its speed before it touches the ground. 

  • It causes acidic oceans
  • Oceans absorb CO2, causing the water's pH to drop and its acidity to increase. This process is known as ocean acidification. This issue is accelerated by deforestation as well as other human activities like industrial agriculture and the burning of fossil fuels.

    Around 30% of all atmospheric CO2 is absorbed by the ocean. Ocean acidification is a result of the rising ocean and atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

    Oceans operate as carbon sinks by absorbing and storing atmospheric carbon, just as the forests do. Our oceans are forced to absorb more of the burden of excess greenhouse gases as a result of deforestation.

    Ocean ecosystems and biodiversity suffer from ocean acidification. The shells and skeletons of creatures like oysters, clams, sea urchins, shallow water corals, deep sea corals, and calcareous plankton can actually dissolve as water becomes more acidic. As larger fish rely on these calcified creatures for food, this has an adverse effect on the overall ecology. 

    The chemistry of the entire ocean may be permanently changed if deforestation and other human activities continue to accelerate ocean acidification.

  • It tampers with the water cycle and causes drought
  • Trees help to maintain the water cycle balance in nature through evaporation, precipitation, and condensation of water particles. Deforestation completely disrupts the entire water cycle and causes less rainfall and drying of underground water. 

    When the amount of groundwater reduces, there is a short supply of water to lakes and reservoirs, and this causes water shortages and droughts.

    Impact of deforestation on humans

  • It destroys indigenous communities
  • Homelands are also being destroyed as a result of the removal of trees and entire forests. The negative effects of deforestation are most noticeable in indigenous people that reside in woods and rely on them for their survival. These tribes are compelled to go elsewhere and find alternative sources of support as their homes are destroyed and their resources are depleted. 

    Over one million Indigenous people, largely of Indian heritage, living in more than 400 indigenous groups, call the Amazon jungle home. They hunt and raise their own food and reside in developed villages along waterways. These "uncontacted" tribes follow the laws of nature, but as the deforestation threat grows, many of them are being forced to migrate.

    Some are compelled to relocate to urban areas and drastically alter their way of life, while others move into places already inhabited by other tribes and put a burden on the land's resources.

  • It causes a shortage of food
  • Deforestation reduces the amount of food available to indigenous communities that are close to tropical woods. Millions of people who reside in these regions struggle to produce enough food and protect crops from harm, making them particularly sensitive to the effects of deforestation on food security.

    It has been demonstrated that the Amazon's deforestation causes pasture productivity to reduce by around 39%, soy yields to fall by over 25% in more than half of the region, and by a startling 60% in a third of it.

  • It affects human health
  • Animals and insects seek refuge in the crowded villages that surround the woods when humans destroy their habitats in the forests. There is an unparalleled amount of unnatural and hazardous contact between humans and wildlife as a result of animal migration into human land. This is because infections can be transmitted from animals to people through microorganisms.

    These microorganisms are responsible for zoonotic diseases. Zoonotic diseases are diseases that are spread from animals to humans. 

    Sadly, areas that are losing their forests already have higher rates of zoonotic infections. Humans contract malaria through mosquitoes, and mosquito populations increase when deforestation is high. It can be said that a 1% increase in deforestation increases malaria by 10%. 

    Deforestation can lead to other zoonotic diseases apart from malaria. The outbreaks of ebola in Central and West Africa can be linked to the frequent contact between infected wild animals and humans. Despite the fact that its origins are still unknown, it is believed that the virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV2, jumped from animals to humans. 

    As a result of our immune systems' inability to combat these new, emerging pathogens, infectious diseases develop rapidly and have the potential to spread worldwide. 

    Impact of deforestation on plants and animals

  • It causes the loss of their natural habitats
  • When forests are cleared, animals and plants that thrive in the wildlife lose their natural habitat. 

    Habitat loss is one of the greatest threats posed to plants and animals globally. When animals and plants lose their natural habitat, they lose the shelter that they need for basic survival and might find it difficult to survive.

  • It leads to the extinction of plant and animal species
  • Many animals and plants die during the process of deforestation, especially when the forest is cleared by means of fire. Also, when animals are forced to vacate their natural environment, the conditions in their new environment might be too harsh for them to survive in and they might die. Lastly, when wild animals are forced to move to human communities, they might not be welcome. Instead, they might be hunted down and killed.

    All these are big factors that lead to the extinction of plants and animals.

  • Shortage of food
  • Food shortage due to deforestation also affects animals. Many animals depend on the same trees and grasses that are being cleared for survival. When they lose access to their sources of food, they are more susceptible to diseases because they are weaker. Ultimately, they starve and die. 

    Causes of deforestation

    You might be wondering if deforestation is so harmful, why do we still engage in it? Well, there are a lot of reasons humans engage in deforestation. Some of these reasons include:

  • Agriculture
  • Approximately 85% of global deforestation is caused by industrial agriculture. Deforestation is mostly caused by the production of livestock, particularly cattle, but soy and palm oil plantations are also significant contributors.

    Before you pass up the tofu, though, consider this: although meat producers destroy enormous swathes of forest to graze their animals, beef cows don't simply consume grass; in fact, 80% of all soybeans farmed are used as feed for livestock, including cattle, pigs, and chickens. And a big factor in deforestation in nations like Indonesia and Malaysia is palm oil, a component that is as common as it is destructive.

  • Urbanization
  • Urbanization, a phenomenon when people move from rural to urban areas, causes cities to flourish and populations to rise. Living in a city tends to increase people's earnings and consumption, which strains forests even more.

    Urban developers look to the logging and mining industries for metals and wood in order to create structures for a growing population, prompting these sectors to clear additional forests for their activities. 

    Additionally, people who relocate from villages to cities eat more processed meals and animal products. To accommodate the increased demand, large-scale industrial farmers convert nearby forests into farms.

    Overall, the accelerated expansion in consumption and development brought on by urbanization may be disastrous for ecosystems dependent on forests.

  • Need for paper
  • Since paper is derived from trees, it is one of the most visible causes of deforestation. Millions of tons of paper are produced every year and to produce one ton of paper, 24 trees are needed.

    However, the issue with paper doesn't end with the manufacturing procedure. Tons of paper and cardboard are also disposed of in landfills. Paper and other waste decompose in landfills, releasing methane, a dangerous greenhouse gas that accelerates climate change.

  • Mining
  • Mining is the process of removing minerals and other natural resources from the earth. The mining industry is infamous for subjecting employees to incredibly risky working conditions while also causing environmental and ecological damage.

    The mining sector uses "slash and burn" techniques to clear forests for its operations, much like how "slash and burn" techniques remove forests for agricultural purposes. Although mining has a far smaller impact on deforestation than agriculture, it nonetheless pollutes the environment by producing large volumes of air and water pollution.

  • Wildfires
  • Worldwide, millions of hectares of forest are destroyed by fire each year. Although fires occur naturally, damaged forests are more susceptible than healthy forests. These include heavily logged rainforests, forests on peat soils, or areas where long-term suppression of forest fires has allowed an unnatural accumulation of vegetation, which increases the intensity of the fire. Wide-ranging effects on biodiversity, climate, and the economy come from the loss.

    Solutions to deforestation

    After reading about the effects of deforestation and its causes, you might ask “so what then is the way forward?”. I have come up with 6 suggestions that can offer solutions to the problem of deforestation.

  • Plant trees
  • This is one of the most obvious solutions to deforestation. Yes, trees are useful and we need them for a lot of things. However, instead of just cutting trees and leaving the forest bare, we can go the extra mile and replace the trees that have been cut.

    A very prominent suggestion is that for every tree that is cut down, two should be planted in replacement. 

  • Grow your food.
  • There’s nothing wrong with having a garden in your home where you grow all the basic things that you eat. This way, you will not only be helping the ecosystem but you’ll also be curbing deforestation as a result of large-scale farming. 

    If everyone plants their food, there will almost be no need for large-scale farming and deforestation will be reduced greatly.

    Now we all know that building a garden at home from scratch is not viable for everyone, but there are some small easy steps you can take to grow your own veggies at home without the hassle of traditional gardening!

    The Smart Garden 9 lets you grow herbs, fruits, flowers and vegetables all year round from the comfort of your home and even has a built in automatic watering system!


  • Reduce your intake of meat and dairy products

    Cattle grazing is a major factor that causes deforestation. When you eat less meat and dairy products, you’re reducing the activities of cattle rearers and their effects on forests.

    Apart from their impact on deforestation, cattle also release methane gas through their belches and flatulence. Methane gas is one of the gases that contribute greatly to climate change.

    Therefore, if you reduce your intake of meat and dairy, you’re helping the environment in more than one way.

    When you do choose to consume meat I urge you to not buy it from you local supermarket and become a more conscious consumer.  Crowd Cow gives you access to quality craft beef and meats from farms and ranches around the world. It is an alternative to the awful current meat commodity system. These small independent ranchers follow ethical, sustainable cattle-raising practices! 


  • Reuse and Recycle
  • The use of wood, paper, and plastics is associated with the destruction of forests and other natural resources. 

    There will be reduced reliance on the environment and forests by prioritizing recycling and reusing paper, plastic, and wood products and embracing responsible consumption. Additionally, it will decrease the number of raw materials that governments and businesses import from other countries forested regions.

    One of the most essential products we use in our daily lives is toilet paper and even I believed there was no eco-friendly alternative, but I am elated to say that I have found a great option! Cloud Paper Premium Bamboo toilet paper is soft, strong and sustainable! It's made from responsibly-sourced FSC certified bamboo and It comes in 100% plastic-free packaging, in a post-consumer recycled box. They even have a subscription option that will allow you to save even more money and remain stocked up!

  • Laws against deforestation

    ​​As a result of the nature and severity of deforestation, governments all over the world started to  enact laws that discourage deforestation. 

    A good example of such laws is enforcing the replanting of trees by people who fell trees. Another good example is banning the felling of trees in forests that have suffered most of the brunt of deforestation.

  • Education
  • It is important that we all educate ourselves on the dangers of deforestation and how we can stop it if we want to make a huge difference in curbing deforestation. There is also the need to talk to those around us about deforestation because you’d be surprised at the number of people who are ignorant of its effects.

    The government and corporate bodies can also come in here. Governments all over the world should enforce the inclusion of deforestation and climate change in schools’ curricula. Corporate bodies should also organize seminars that educate their workers on these topics.

    Lastly, you can educate yourself further by staying tuned to this blog and paying attention to the articles that I’ll be publishing here. They will all suggest simple steps that can make our environment a better place.


    Deforestation is one of the biggest threats to the planet we live on. It has numerous effects that can get out of hand if nothing is done about it. Truth is, they are already getting out of hand. 

    Fortunately, deforestation can be curbed if the right things are done and if we live more carefully. Let’s all work together to eradicate deforestation and make our planet a better place. 


    As a blogger, my content may include affiliate links from advertisers. I may earn a small commission from actions readers take on these links such as a purchase, or subscribe. All my recommendations are based on my own research and personal trust in the products that I share. I am not a doctor or nutritionist. Please consult with your practitioner prior to using any products recommended.
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