Although deforestation is often thought of in a negative light, there are some benefits to the practice. Otherwise it wouldn’t be occurring, right? What we must do is evaluate the benefits of deforestation against the potential future risks of reducing this unique planetary biome. Will the long-term gains of transforming the land outweigh the long-term gains of leaving it alone?
There really are some benefits to deforestation. By evaluating both the benefits and the disadvantages of this practice, then we can effectively answer the questions above.
What Are the Pros of Deforestation?
1. It creates more usable space.
With 10 billion people expected to be on the planet by the year 2050 and no end to the growth explosion in sight, space is becoming a premium on Earth. When forests are on lands that could be used for habitation, then removing the forest creates more livable space. Homes and businesses can even be built using the products that have been removed from the biome.
2. It allows for more food production.
Advancements in crop technologies have led to massive farming yields over the last 20 years, but this may not be enough in the next 20 years. Deforestation gives us enough space to provide enough food for 10 billion plus people who will be hungry in the future.
3. It provides timber and paper products.
The trees that are removed from forests provide an economic benefit that is local and regional in many instances. Timber and paper are created for the rest of the world to enjoy. Some of the toilet paper that is used in most homes around the world comes at least in some part from deforestation unless it was created with 100% recyclable items.
4. It gives people jobs.
Many people who are clearing a forest have no other job opportunities available to them. This means deforestation provides workers with the money they need to take care of their families on a regular basis. When an area is cleared, workers can then settle down and establish a plantation, a farm, or an industrial sector which will keep income flowing.
What Are the Cons of Deforestation?
1. It may contribute to global warming.
Forests help to filter the carbon out of the air and replace it with needed oxygen. When there are fewer trees around, then there is less carbon dioxide being removed from the atmosphere.
2. It only focuses on short-term gains.
The world already is producing more than 10% of the calories that is needed for the entire world population right now. Many nations are consuming more than 1,000 calories per day per capita more than are needed for proper health. If more food is produced, then short-term gains will become the focus instead of long-term needs being met.
3. It is a limited resource.
There may be monetary benefits to deforestation at first, but those timber profits go away since there aren’t any additional trees being planted to replace those that are harvested. Farms and livestock are not nearly as profitable as a living, thriving forest on a planetary scale.
4. It may eliminate future medicines.
Only a small fraction of the world’s forests have been explored by non-tribal humans. Many of today’s best medicines have a foundation from items that were secured from the forest. Deforestation removes the possibility to study the biome, learn from it, and improve human life for all.
5. It contributes to extinction.
The removal of a habitat is often the foundation for the extinction of a species. This isn’t just animals or plants being talked about here. Tribes that have never sought out human contact before are leaving their forests at a record pace because of the intrusions of deforestation. In essence, we remove a piece of ourselves when we no longer allow for tribal humans to exist as they always have.
6. It may promote drought development.
Drought is affecting many parts of the world today. Deforestation encourages higher levels of water consumption because of crop and livestock growth. Instead of having a system of moisture recycling like a forest provides, water goes to livestock and food production and is removed from the natural cycle of life.
Although there are many benefits that can be achieved through deforestation, the risks of deforestation cannot be ignored. Many deforestation efforts focus only on short-term gains and think nothing of the long-term consequences and risks. The cure for a number of devastating illnesses and diseases could be living in the forest right now. Deforestation may permanently remove the ability to discover something that could benefit the human race for years to come.
Crystal Lombardo is a contributing editor for Vision Launch. Crystal is a seasoned writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience. She has been an editor of three popular blogs that each have had over 500,000 monthly readers.