What is deforestation, degradation and climate change
Deforestation: It implies the long term permanent loss of forest cover and implies transformation into another land use. Such a loss can only be caused and maintained by a continued human-induced or natural perturbation (FAO, 2001).
Forest degradation: The long term reduction of the overall potential supply of benefits from the forest, which includes carbon, wood, biodiversity and other goods and services (FAO, 2003).
Climate change: It refers to a statistically significant variation in either the mean state of the climate or in its variability, persisting for an extended period (typically decades or longer). Climate change may be due to natural internal processes or external forcings, or to persistent anthropogenic changes in the composition of the atmosphere or in land use (IPCC, 2001).
Effects of deforestation and degradation on Climate change
Forests have a vital role to play in the fight against global warming. Forests absorb and store carbon in their trees and soil. But if forests are cleared or disturbed, this carbon is released as carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. “Up to a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation and forest degradation” (WWF Scotland, 2008).
Importance of forests in climate change
Each year, mature and growing forests store a quarter of total anthropogenic emissions into their wood and soils. Logging is so bad for the climate is that when trees are felled they release the carbon they are storing into the atmosphere, where it mingles with greenhouse gases from other sources and contributes to global warming accordingly which further induces climate change.
The timescale of trees: Deforestation emits greenhouse gases for two main reasons: burning and decaying. Farmers use fire to get rid of non-valuable woody parts such as stumps and tree crowns, or even stems when their needs for wood are already fulfilled. In the short-term, the resulting ashes also act as a fertilizer for the deforested land. Greenhouse gas emissions from biomass burning mainly consist of CO2, but some methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) is also emitted (Figure below). What resists burning is left to decay, which usually occurs within 10 years. In the long...