The world’s rainforests continue to fall. Does that really make any difference? Why should anyone care if some plants, animals, mushrooms, and microorganisms die? After all, rainforests are often hot and humid, difficult to reach, full of insects, and have wild animals hiding in them.
Indeed, our concern should not be focused solely on the loss of certain plant and animal species; Humanity has much to lose. By destroying tropical forests, we endanger our quality of life, risk affecting climate stability and local weather patterns, threatening the existence of other species and undermine the valuable services provided by biodiversity.
In most areas environmental degradation has not yet reached critical levels where entire systems collapse, it is important to examine some of the effects of existing environmental impoverishment and anticipate some of the potential repercussions of forest loss. The continued loss of natural systems could leave human activities increasingly vulnerable to future ecological surprises.
Local people are most affected
Conflicts with wild animals: As their habitat declines, many animals are forced to forage outside of their traditional forest habitats and move into areas populated by humans, leading to conflicts. Crop damage and death by wild animals are increasingly problematic in some tropical areas.
Disease outbreaks: The emergence of epidemics and new tropical diseases, including violent hemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola and Lassa fever, are subtle but serious impacts of deforestation. With the increase of human presence in the tropical forest and the ever deeper entry of abusive explorers, man is encountering “new” microorganisms with behaviors contrary to those previously known.
The rate of increase in soil loss following forest clearing is staggering; a study in Côte d’Ivoire found that forested slope areas lost 0.03 tonnes of soil per hectare annually, cultivated slopes lost 90 tonnes per hectare annually, while bare slopes lost 138 tonnes per hectare.
Is the weather changing?
Tropical rainforests play a critical role in regional weather, contributing to local humidity through transpiration — the process in which plants release water through their leaves. It is estimated that the Amazon rainforest manufactures 50-80% of its own rain through this process.
Thus, when the forest is deforested, degraded, and destroyed it retains less of the heat by the vegetation, and as a consequence less moisture is evapotranspired into the atmosphere. Fewer rain clouds form and there is less rain in the forest – NASA researchers confirmed this when they found that during the dry season, there tends to be less rain in the Amazon in regions with high deforestation rates. higher forest. The forest gets drier, which contributes to a ripple effect where the rainforest is replaced by savannah, which transpires less.
The last goodbye; a planet tight and full of loneliness
Extinction scientists and ecologists typically use some form of the curve of species and their home ranges to determine rates of species loss. Essentially this curve predicts that a 90 percent reduction in the area of a habitat will result in the loss of 50 percent of its species.
So far we have no evidence of the mass extinctions of species predicted by the species and habitat curve, but some leading ecologists believe that species extinctions, like global warming, would have a long-lasting effect, and species loss of forest due to deforestation in the past is still not apparent today. In his book “The Call of Distant Mammoths”, author Peter Ward uses the term “extinction debt” to describe the extinction of this species and its populations, long after their habitat has been altered. Natural. An example can be found in a study of West African primates, which found an “extinction debt” of over 30% of the total primate fauna as a result of historical deforestation. While we can predict the effects of the loss of some species, we know too little about the vast majority of species to make reasonable projections. The unanticipated loss of unknown species will have an effect that increases over time.
In addition to losing unique species that give the planet character and are intrinsically valuable in their own right, we are losing an incredible range of genetic diversity that we could harness to help our own species. As a species is lost an original combination of genes, produced over the course of millions of years, is lost and will not be replaced in our time. We are heading into a future depleted of those magnificent species we remember learning a little about as children: wild tigers, rhinos that look like they have armor; colorful macaws; colorful frogs and toads. When these species disappear from the globe, the world will truly be a poorer place. Biodiversity will recover after the disappearance of humanity which, however, in the meantime,
The study of extinctions that occurred in the past shows that it takes five million years for biodiversity to reach the same level as it was before the event occurred. Our actions today will determine whether the earth will be biologically impoverished for the more than 500 trillion humans who will inhabit the earth during this future period.
The extinction event taking place as you read these words rivals extinctions caused by natural disasters during the global ice ages, planetary collisions, atmospheric poisoning, and variations in solar radiation. The difference is that this extinction was conceived by human beings and depends on human decisions. We are the biggest and best hope for life as we prefer it on this planet.