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Forests and Deforestation

Forests and Deforestation

Author: Sophia Tutorial
Description:

Identify the negative impacts of deforestation and efforts to sustain forests.

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Tutorial

what's covered
This tutorial will cover the topic of forests and deforestation. We will discuss three forest types: taiga, temperate forests, and tropical rainforests. We will cover the causes of deforestation and its impacts. Lastly, we will explore efforts to sustain forests and protect them from deforestation.

Our discussion breaks down as follows:

  1. Forest Types
    1. Taiga Forests
    2. Temperate Forests
    3. Tropical Rainforest
  2. Deforestation and Its Causes
  3. Impacts of Deforestation
  4. Sustaining Forests


1. Forest Types

We are going to discuss three types of forests. Each differs largely due to the amounts of rainfall, sunlight, soil nutrients, biodiversity, and ability to withstand disturbances.

1a. Taiga Forests

The first type, taiga, are forests located in colder areas, and they are usually in higher latitudes, as shown in the map below. About half of the year, taiga forests get very little rainfall and sunlight. They have low biodiversity and are mainly comprised of conifers. As a result of such factors, taiga forests grow slowly with their poor nutrient-dense soils, and they produce a low yield of biomass. In addition, if a taiga forest is cleared it will recover very slowly, and the soil might even blow away.

Taiga

1b. Temperate Forests

Temperate forests are those in mid-range latitudes and are located in regions with moderate sunlight, rainfall, and temperature ranges. They tend to have a moderate amount of biodiversity and consist of a mixture of deciduous hardwoods and evergreen trees. Temperate forests usually have deep, fertile soils, are relatively resistant to disturbances and if cleared, they will often grow again.

Temperate Forests

Tropical Rainforests

Lastly, in lower latitudes, there are tropical rainforests. They are generally highly biodiverse and are a mixture of deciduous hardwoods and evergreens. Tropical rainforests occur in locations with high levels of rainfall, temperature, and sunlight. Rainforests tend to have shallow soils with little mineral content. If cleared, they rarely grow back.

Tropical Rainforests


2. Deforestation and Its Causes

Deforestation, today's key term, is the conversion of forested areas to non-forested land for human use of the land or resources from the land.

Deforestation

Causes of deforestation include:

  • Human population growth
  • Climate change
  • Removal for agricultural use
  • General logging
  • Harvesting for fuel
  • Burning
  • Grazing
term to know
Deforestation
The conversion of forested areas to non-forested land for human use of the land or resources from the land.


3. Impacts of Deforestation

Deforestation does not just affect the local ecosystem and economy. It can also have impacts at the regional and global level.

Impacts of Deforestation Explanation
Carbon Storage Forests and trees specifically store large quantities of the atmospheric greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, preventing it from contributing to global warming. As forests disappear or are burned, this capability is lost and global climate change is accelerated, as the CO2 from that biomass re-enters the atmosphere all at once.
Water Cycle Trees are important to maintaining homeostasis of the water cycle, and forests affect regional climate. Without them, the cycle could be thrown out of balance. Rainforests depend on heavy rainfall, yet heavy rainfall weather patterns also depend on rainforests' existence. In addition, the destruction of forests have led to local and regional croplands being abandoned, because lower rainfall means less humidity and more extreme summer temperatures.
Soil Erosion Deforestation also increases soil erosion, increases exposure to direct sunlight, and results in areas being unable to sustain much life at all.
Loss of Biodiversity A large portion of the world's biodiversity lives in tropical rainforests. As they are deforested, massive amounts of species are going extinct from habitat loss, resulting in a significant decline in global biodiversity.


4. Sustaining Forests

Efforts to sustain forests and protect them from deforestation have been:

  • Planting trees to start new forests
  • Establishing nature preserves and green zones that cannot be affected by human development
  • Regulating logging practices to prevent unsustainable use
  • Educational programs focused on forestry management


summary
Today we learned about three types of forests: taiga, temperate forests, and tropical rainforests. We learned about some of the causes of deforestation and its impacts, as well as efforts to address it. Don't forget the key term, deforestation, which is the conversion of forested areas to non-forested land for human use of the land or resources from that land.

Source: Adapted from Sophia instructor Jensen Morgan, RAINFOREST CC HTTP://BIT.LY/1MG66EH TEMPERATE CC HTTP://BIT.LY/1GMGALH TAIGA CC HTTP://BIT.LY/1FRLPK6 DEFORESTATION, PD HTTP://BIT.LY/19FFTLD

Terms to Know
Deforestation

the conversion of forested areas to non-forest land for human use of the land or resources from the land