Merriam-Webster defines deforestation as “the act or process of cutting down or burning all the trees in an area” (Def. 1). Sometimes, deforestation can occur unintentionally because of forest fires, changes in climate, floods, and insects. Most deforestation happens intentionally by humans in order to use the land for farms and cities or to use the trees for paper and wood products. This practice has existed since the dawn of man, and in that time, about 80% of the Earth's forests are gone. If we continue at this rate, all of the rain forests in the world could disappear in a hundred years. Deforestation is harmful because it can lead to biodiversity loss, soil erosion, and desertification.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, tropical rain forests hold about 80 percent of the known species on Earth, which is where a majority of deforestation is taking place. Endangered species that live in forests, such as bonobos, giant pandas, and Asian elephants, are especially at risk of extinction because of deforestation. When one certain species is wiped out of an area, it impacts the whole food chain in that ecosystem. This is known as the domino effect. If a certain plant is removed from an ecosystem, the insect that relied on that plant will die out from a lack of food. The snake that ate said insect will also have no food. Deforestation can have a disastrous effect on nearly every species living in the forest.
Deforestation not only affects living creatures, but the soil and nutrients in forests as well. When trees are cleared from an area, it removes the protective covering and shading that the plants in the forest need. If the plants die out, soil erosion occurs. The roots and water storages of trees, which hold soil and nutrients in the forest, are squandered when they're burnt or cut. Without the roots and water storages to support them, soil and nutrients leave the area permanently. In severe cases, soil erosion can cause desertification, which is another example of deforestation causing a domino effect.
Desertification is “the process by which an area becomes a desert (as from land mismanagement or climate change” (Merriam-Webster, Def. 1). The land mismanagement can come from areas that were cleared for farms. Farmers that fence incorrectly limit wild and domestic creatures' movements in response to food availability, resulting in overgrazing (Collins, “Desertification”). Overgrazing, along with deforestation, are the main causes of desertification....