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Wildlife and Deforestation

Deforestation has been a huge controversy with environmentalists. Many people support the benefits of deforestation, but overlook the negative effects it has. People who support deforestation can explore the economic benefits of deforestation. Deforestation may have economic benefits, but even so, the negatives far outweigh the positives. Deforestation destroys natural habitats for animals. When a species’ natural habitat disappears, it becomes difficult for that species to adapt – causing extinction. The end result of deforestation is a significant reduction in biodiversity.

In the article, Benefits of Deforestation, Nathalie Fiset focuses mainly on the economic benefits of deforestation. He claims that wood products are one of the most stable building materials in human society and that people cannot live without wood products (Fiset). This is true to an extent, but we are evolving into a paperless society. Today, almost everything is done electronically. For example, people can pay almost any bill online now. there is no paper involved in this. Also, when people vote, they do it electronically. No more paper ballots. There is no reason to have to cut down so many trees when human society learns to live without paper products. Most paper companies today use recycled materials, not trees.

Another point Fiset makes is that deforestation can create a lot of jobs. He states that when environmentalists speak out against deforestation, it causes many people who work with wood products to lose those jobs (Fiset). When deforestation is put into perspective, is it really worth it? People can always get up and find another job. When these people destroy the homes of millions, these animals have nowhere else to go. It is more difficult for animals to go find a new home. It takes generations to adapt to the new environment. When these workers lose their jobs, there are many environmentally friendly jobs that these workers could go to. For example, they could monitor forests and wildlife instead of cutting down trees and destroying natural habitats. Another alternative job is to work for a paper recycling company. Instead of cutting down trees, they can save trees by recycling used paper. Instead of destroying natural habitats, these workers could be working for a company that stands for something good.

Fiset believes that when companies destroy a forest they can easily make up for what they lost by planting more trees in place of the old ones (Fiset). When loggers cut down trees, they can’t just plant more trees and call it quits. In a single forest there are several types of trees and it takes hundreds of years to create a massive forest that greatly supports biodiversity and all the wildlife that inhabits it. Usually when forests are destroyed, companies only plant one or two species of trees to make up for what they removed. Some animals need a specific tree to live or raise a family. When people plant only one tree, it can be difficult for them to adapt, eventually causing extinction. When natural habitats are demolished and left with nothing, most animals are killed in the process or some of them flee. But when the animals return, their home is completely gone. For example, many birds that had nests in the various types of trees that were destroyed now have to raise their family in an open field simply by asking a predator to eat that bird offspring. This is because they cannot adapt quickly enough to sustain themselves on this new tree. When a species disappears, there is no going back. Once they’re gone, they’re gone for good.

The last claim he makes is that the destruction of forests could help find more natural resources such as oil, natural gas and coal (Fiset). The automotive industry is starting a new revolution with more efficient and environmentally friendly cars. The United States is slowly leaning away from natural, non-renewable resources. The effects of burning coal have greatly contributed to global warming with a dramatic decrease in O-ZONE levels, which protect the Earth from the sun’s harmful UV rays. As a result, carbon is not an important thing to look for. There are many other ways of electricity as well. There is wind energy, solar energy, geothermal energy, hydropower and tidal wave energy. All of these energy sources have no need for natural resources and are all renewable and cause little to no damage to the Earth. If deforestation continues on the path it is on, then many more species will decline.

In the Amazon forest, there are thousands of different organisms. One particular study done by scientists was to document how the stingless bee adapted to deforestation. According to the article, these particular bee species are important not only to the environment, but also to people economically and culturally. Many people would say that bees are not important, but for the people who live in the Amazon and the regions around the Amazon, bees are sacred. Some people even consider these stingless bees as pets. The stingless bee produces honey that has a variety of different uses. People can apparently eat the honey or use it in certain recipes, and they can use it to make Balché, which is an alcoholic drink. Another benefit of these bees is to pollinate farmers’ crops. If there are no bees, then there are no food-producing crops for farmers to sell.

In a study done on these stingless bees, scientists went to different areas of the Amazon affected by deforestation and collected the bees to see how they were adapting to deforestation. As a result, they found seven different species of stingless bees, but only two of these species appeared to be unaffected by deforestation (McCoy and Mushinski). This means that five of the stingless bee species are vulnerable to extinction. This is just one example of how deforestation can destroy a species.

Another example of animals at risk due to deforestation are tailed lemurs. These monkeys live in Madagascar, but since the human population is expanding rapidly in Madagascar, companies are clearing the forests and destroying the lemur’s environment. Many scientists believe that lemurs are what make a rainforest healthy (Butler). There are only about 50 species of lemurs left. Deforestation is putting a lot of pressure on these lemurs living in Madagascar. Evidence shows that there are so many different kinds of species affected by deforestation, from bees to monkeys.

Clearing trees to build farms, cities and homes just destroys natural habitats. These are just the primary results. There are other impacts of deforestation that most people look past. An example of a secondary effect of deforestation is pollutants introduced into the forest. When a company clears an acre of forest, it brings in trucks that deposit harmful pollutants into wildlife. Researchers have discovered that thousands of harmful chemicals are introduced into the natural environment that disrupt the nervous, immune, endocrine, and reproductive cycles of animals that come into contact with these chemicals (Hose and Guillette 87). This also has a significant effect on endangered species because when they are affected by these pollutants, it can be difficult for them to reproduce. This means that the population of the endangered species will not increase without making extinction any more difficult.

However, there are some solutions that people can do to prevent harmful products from entering a natural environment. One resolution might be to keep very close tabs on toxins that are exposed to the environment. This will limit how much chemicals can pollute the environment and get breeding cycles back on track. Another solution may be knowledge of the chemicals distributed in these environments. Once people learn how bad these chemicals really are, then they may stop using them. The last resort is to create model ecosystems, such as rehabilitation facilities, to aid in endocrine reform (Hose and Guillette 88-89).

Although deforestation has greatly affected wildlife, there are a few organizations that are trying to help some of the animals that are struggling in the wild. These organizations create rehabilitation programs for animals that are on the brink of extinction. Scientists can measure the success rate of these plants, and the success rate is usually very high. It is easier to measure success one unit at a time (McCoy and Mushinski). Deforestation may destroy the lives of some animals, but when people take small steps to help the natural environment they are one step closer to ultimately helping an endangered species.

There are many examples of how deforestation can be beneficial, but many simply look at what it can do for people. Proponents want to destroy habitats to find natural resources that can and will destroy this planet. Global warming is taking hold and deforestation is just adding more fuel to the fire. Also, when we destroy an acre of forest, millions of animal homes are destroyed. When the homes of these animals that live in these forests that are cleared daily are gone, they have no protection for themselves and their offspring. This is a major problem for biodiversity. Every day thousands of species disappear drastically reducing the Earth’s biodiversity. Deforestation has many benefits for humans, but it is a huge problem for the natural environment.

Sources

Butler, Rhett A. “Lemurs are key to the health of Madagascar’s rainforests.” Mongabay. 2008. May 5, 2009.

Fitzett, Natalie. “Benefits of Deforestation”. Ezinearticles. April 30, 2009.

Hose, JE & Guillette, LJ “Defining the role of pollutants in the distribution of reproduction in wildlife.” Environmental Health Perspectives 103 (1995): 87-91. JSTOR. Western Illinois University Library. April 02, 2009

Brown, Christopher J. and Albrecht, Christian. “The effect of tropical deforestation on stingless bees of the genus Melipona”. Journal of Biogeography. 28.5 (2001): 623-634. JSTOR. Western Illinois University Library. April 02, 2009

McCoy, Earl D and Mushinski, Henry R. “Measuring the Success of Wildlife Community Restoration.” Ecological Applications. 12.6 (2002): 1861-1871. JSTOR. Western Illinois University Library. April 02, 2009

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