The Global Depletion of Forests
Deforestation results from the actions of man as well as those of the nature.
It could be further categorized on the objectives in which they were done as well. Though not much is thought when a tree is cut down only lately we understand how destructive it would be if this process to be continued. Although there are many organizations established for the management and protection of forests, they have not always been active for the purpose they were meant to be.While carrying out this study, I collected data on the statistics of deforestation, the main reasons for it, countries and regions that mostly produce or consume lumber, the projects which helped to lower the rates of deforestation and how they worked out and the difficulties that they encountered.
In this research, the interrelationships between the above are elaborated as well. Background The depletion of forests, which is generally known as deforestation is discussed with the intention of finding solutions to it.The rate at which it is taking place is alarming and today it has become a global crisis. There are a number of reasons and ways that the forests are destroyed. In summary, it basically takes place with efforts to accomplish the needs and wants of man, though the nature is also another important contributing factor.
The latter is not as much destructive as the activities of man. The reasons for deforestation are many and are quite complex with an increase in the demand for lumber presenting on one hand and the poor socio-economic factors in the developing world contributing on the other hand.However, the poor recognition of the true value of forests and the environmental services it endows with are the strongest factors attributed to the continuing man-made loss. Many international conferences realized the importance of minimizing the effects of deforestation. Many agencies such as UNEP, FAO, World Resources Institute (WRI) etc.
have conducted surveys to identify the extent and remedies to this problem. Many governmental and non-governmental organizations are working together to find solutions, but the support of the local communities is vital to achieve success in any of these programs.Forests of the world are being depleted The by-stands of old and large tree, a canopy of many layers, a composition of distinct species and a huge piling of organic matter are characterized as old growth forests and they have attributes which are positive. They contain a lot of carbon and a vast amount of genetic diversity, conserve and protect nutrients and soil, provide dwelling habitats for various species and finally they are a superb source of expensive, precious, valuable timber. Nearly a third of the Earth’s land extent is covered by forests which have an extent of approximately 3886 million ha.
Read about factors you should consider to understand the threat in your environmentThe deforestation rate is one of the most high of the Earth, at an average of 0. 8 per cent annually. Looking back from 30 years ago to the present, deforestation has been a process of continuation having a long history. Globally the total loss of forest cover during the late 20th century is nearly equal to 2. 4 percent of the total forest cover.
Tropical forests are depleted at a rate of 1 percent per year. Also, during the ‘90s the net loss of the natural forests was about 16. 1 million ha annually and sadly, 15. 2 million ha of it happened in the topical sections of the globe. (“State of the …”, n. d.
World forest depletion has become a burning topic among many international and policy making organizations after realizing its interrelationship with the climatic change. 25 percent of the anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are a result of forest clearance. (Sabelli, n. d. )A considerable amount of the world forest covers had been cleared already when the Stockholm Conference took place.
Although it is generally believed too much of logging as the main cause of forest depletion, the history of deforestation is closely linked to the transformation of forest land for other purposes and to the expansion of the demography as well. “State of the …”, n. d. ) Depending on the country, the reasons for deforestation are multiple.
Some factors promoting deforestation are the insecurity in land tenure and the fragile forest governance. (Sabelli, n. d. ) Furthermore, high dependence on wood for fuel, population pressure, demand for timber products and the conversion of forests into agricultural land can be categorized as factors which are underlying for deforestation in the Asia-Pacific region. (“State of the …”, n.
d. ) In Latin America, the tropical deforestation shows discrepancy over time and geographical space.In the Peruvian Amazon agriculture is a leading cause of deforestation. Government policies as in Brazil such as the colonization scheme, subsides on agriculture, construction of new roads, as said before; the insecure land tenure, logging for commercial purposes, small and large scale agriculture, ranching cattle, poverty, population growth and finally, migration have contributed to deforestation.
(Sabelli, n. d. ) In Brazil, as in the state of Para, road constructions such as the Inter-Oceanic Highway has significantly contributed to deforestation where it rose from 0. per cent to 17.
3 percent from 1972 to 1985. In Venezuela, Peru and Ecuador individual miners and mining corporations have cleared vast areas of forest lands. (“State of the …”, n. d.
)Nevertheless, the poor recognition of the true value of the standing forests and the environmental services it endows with including the fortification of the biodiversity, maintenance of the water cycle and the carbon sequestration are the strongest factors attributed to the continuing loss of forests. (Sabelli, n. d. Harvesting too much of industrial wood, firewood and other minor forest products as well as too much grazing are major contributors for forest depletion. The population growth, poverty, market and macro-economic policies and the increased trade in forest-related products come as other underlying causes.
To illustrate this, illegal logging and high exploitation of fuel wood as well as overgrazing were related to the severe energy crisis that occurred in the mid-1990s in Georgia and Armenia.Commercial methods of logging are mostly destructive as well. In Western Africa it was concluded that approximately 2m3 of other trees which were standing were destroyed when obtaining logs of 1m3. Where species are selected and targeted in particular, non-targeted species also have a probability of being damaged. (“State of the …”, n. d.
) In addition to all these forests are also harmed by insect pests, fire, diseases and extreme climatic conditions which are the natural factors. Pest proliferation causes damages to forests which are not possible to reverse.At present, uncontrolled wildfire has become a major concern as it has the capability of destroying the surface biomass of a forest nearly up to a 50 per cent and cause severe damage to the fauna as well. To open up new lands for agriculture and to do the hunting with ease the traditional tool, fire has been used for new forest lands when they are being opened up. Huge areas of forests all over the Earth caught fire in the years of 1997 and 1998, during the intense conditions of the El Nino drought. Extreme and severe weather conditions are the other forms of natural threat.
When the storms struckEurope in December 1990, extensive damages were caused to forests. (“State of the …”, n. d. ) Moreover, during the 1990s, instead of the shifting systems, two thirds of the deforested lands were converted to agricultural lands permanently. It took place in a large scale in Latin America and in Africa and it was predominated by agricultural enterprises of small scale.
Huge areas of lands have been cleared by commercial farmers for soybean exports in Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay, for banana cultivation in the Caribbean, Ecuador, Colombia and Central America, and for coffee plantations in Brazil.In Asia, it was moreover distributed equally among permanent small and large scale agricultural areas with shifting cultivation. (“State of the …”, n. d.
) Mangrove forests have been successfully strong in the intertidal zones of the tropical and subtropical coasts of the Asian, Australian, American and African continents. Activities like fresh water diversion, over harvesting, pollution, sea level fluctuation; prolonged flooding, timber and charcoal industries as well as coastal developments and tourism threaten mangrove forests and destroy them too.What is the demand for lumber? The available data clearly indicates that there is a rise in the trade trends in wood and wood products. The net production of domestically processed forest products for exporting has gone up and likely, the trades between countries that are not developed have gone up as well. The estimates as shown by the FAO 2000 indicate that the total round wood production, when taken globally has been nearly 3335 million cubic meters during 1999.
Over 50 percent of this was fuel-wood.In overall, approximately 90 percent was produced and consumed in countries which are yet developing. In 1990, the industrial round wood production was around 1550 million cubic meters and it was almost totally occurred in developed countries. It is grossed to be nearly 80 percent of the production, globally.
Mainly industrial wood, fuel wood and wood fiber have a higher demand. (“State of the …”, n. d. ) The tropical timber species are used in furniture, flooring, decking, architectural wood works and sculpturing. The tropical plywood trade showed a stable market while the whole log exchange has decreased.
In the USA, the culture of wooden house building causes major purchasing of wood and the purchases continued to rise from 2001 – 2007, says the US Bureau of Economic Analysis Survey. The Japanese forestry agency shows that the demand for lumber in Japan has been decreasing from 2001 – 2007. (Villazon M, n. d. ) Most West African and Central African countries meet their requirements of domestic energy which is above 80 per cent of fuel wood.
(“State of the …”, n. d. ) (“State of the environment and policy perspective”, n. d. ) What is the supply situation of lumber?In 2005, the industrial round wood production was 273 million m3 and the sawn wood production was 71 million m3.
In 2020, the estimated industrial round wood production will be 83 million m3. (“State of the world’s …”, n. d. ) Over the last 50 years the production of lumber per cubic meter of round wood used, increased by 39 per cent. The total production of lumber in Washington remained relatively constant from 1988 to 1996.
But still there are cyclic fluctuations in the demand for forest products. (Power, 2005) During the last 10 years, the annual cutting volume of timber resources was 10 – 12 million m3 in Latvia alone.The total value of the produced goods of the Latvian wood processing industry in 2010, reached one million. The world production of furniture in 2010 is estimated to be worth around US$ 376 billion while the annual trade in furniture for the past 3 years surpassed US$ 100 billion.
The strong demand and high export prices have perpetuated the preference for direct export of raw logs and low value-added timber products. The increased domestic log supply has led to the expansion of the secondary wood processing industries as well. Krumins, Smits, Dagis, and Dubrovskis, n. d.
)A large portion of the logs which were exported after processing were as plywood, veneer and sawn timber. In the year of 2009, 395 mills that produced furniture as well as furniture parts and wood work, were registered in the STIDC; the agency that regulates principles related to industries that processed timber in Sarawak. A present study carried out by the International Timber Trade Organization (ITTO) mentions that about 26 percent of the furniture mills in Sarawak were actively producing.The trade of tropical lumber and wood products has powered the economic growth of many Asian countries in the South-East in the past three decades. Harvesting timber in a large scale began in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines in the 1960s.
It was primarily done to supply the markets in Korea and Japan. At present, among all the global wooden furniture exporters Malaysia is ranked 10. Sarawak having rich resources of high quality timber is among the world’s top suppliers of tropical semi-finished wood products.Following the tightening of regulations related to forestry and banning the exportation of logs by the government of Indonesia, Sarawak became the top rank supplier of plywood as well as tropical logs in the region of South-East Asia.
(Ngui, Agrawal, and Voon, n. d. ) Now even the Sarawak furniture manufacturers are facing a shortage of timber suppliers. (Krumins, Smits, Dagis, and Dubrovskis, n.
d. ) Which projects are in place to slow down the destruction of forests? In 1972, forests were recognized by the Stockholm conference as the most complex, largest and self-perpetuating of all ecosystems.It emphasized on the need for using forest policies and sound-land, due monitoring of which condition that the forests of the world are in, and the introduction of management planning of forests. It was advised that the countries must make the basic and applied research stronger for forest management plans to be improved. As a result systems of forest governance are being rapidly evolved, along with the related responsibilities and rules of the governments, civilians, communities of indigenous people and the NGOs.
(“State of the …”, n. d. During the past 30 years the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) 1982, FAO 1995, FAO 2001b, UNEP 2001 and World Resources Institute (WRI) 1997 have carried out assessments of the changes in forest cover.The FAO studies showed the depletion of forests as due to the changes in the economical, demographical, technological and institutional factors. Therefore, these projects were aimed at formation of well-developed policies and institutional frameworks, creation of favorable economic conditions such as an acceptable capital income, control of the expenses for energy and fuel as well as the growth in population. “State of the world’s …”, n.
d. ) The Tropical Forestry Action Plan (TFAP) was jointly launched by the UNDP, FAO, WRI and the World Bank. The TFAP consisted of four areas of priority for action; land-use forestry; energy and fuel-wood; tropical forest ecosystem conservation; and finally, institutions. It aimed to unite or to bring together the consumer and the producer countries of timber in the tropics by establishing the ITTO under the UNCTAD in 1983.The ITTO consists of committees which are primarily working on industries, reforestation and markets.
“State of the …”, n. d. ) Many international conferences also realized the importance of reforestation to minimize the climate change. The Kyoto Protocol specially recognized the importance of the land-use change for climatic improvement and thereby, created a mechanism for the promotion of industrialized countries facilitating reforestation projects in the developing countries to make up for their greenhouse emissions.
This is named as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). (Sabelli, n. d. ) The Kyoto protocol might have a profound effect on the forest sector.The UNFCC and the other parties have met with an agreement on the modalities and rules of accounting for the sequestration of carbon by forests.
This might pave the path for the 1st world countries making their investments on projects of reforestation and afforestation in the underdeveloped countries, in return for the units that reduce the emission of carbon under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). (“State of the …”, n. d. ) Forest activities as an important climate mitigation strategy were again identified at the UN conference of the Parties 15th Session in Copenhagen.
At this conference projects that Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) were identified as important. (Sabelli, n. d. ) The CDM and the REDD had trilateral objectives namely; mitigation of climatic change; reduction of tropical deforestation; and alleviation of rural poverty.
They have created new market opportunities in the sphere of forest management and generated opportunities for poverty alleviation in the tropics. Here the new commodity traded is carbon. Carbon forestry offset projects presented the international community a novel means of forest conservation.Here the landowners and the governments would be able to earn revenue for maintaining and augmenting carbon-storage in their property by practices such as protecting the existing forest cover, minimizing deforestation, reforesting affected areas, augmenting tree cover and sustainable forest management. (Sabelli, n. d.
) In the long term basis, the local institutions are very important in managing the depletion of forests as they are resourced with knowledge and experience in managing forestry, agriculture and animal husbandry. “State of the world’s …”, n. d. ) Having to face with inadequate human and financial resources, the governments of underdeveloped countries have become highly dependent on the local communities to obtain assistance to manage and protect forests which are owned by the state.
(“State of the …”, n. d. ) The joint participation of local communities in forest management, is presently a feature of significance of the national programs and policies regarding forests worldwide.Such schemes based on the local communities are being established benefiting them in their income levels and in the conservation of forests. In the eastern regions of Africa, schemes of agroforestry are being established in order to meet the two needs for tree products and agricultural production from small scaled holdings.
(“State of the …”, n. d. ) Deforestation is reduced by making economic activities available to local communities that supported forest conservations simultaneously.The promotion of forest products that are non-timber; such as extraction of rubber, collection of Brazil nuts, ecotourism, forest sustainable certification for forest management, organic or fair trade agricultural product cultivation.
E. g. shade – grown coffee are some of them. (Sabelli, n. d.
) In Europe, many countries are spending time and money to decrease the production of wood from the forests of nature, on other services for the environment, on enhancing the biological diversity, and on functions to protect them in a better way.In order to support the above mentioned efforts, the framework Pan-European Forest Certification (PEFC) provides a voluntary mechanism for the certification of forests. Fines and economic sanctions are imposed on legal or illegal logging to put an end to deforestation. Enforcement systems and strengthened monitoring, transparent decision making, simple laws with severe punishments are elements of the fight against corruption and forest activities which are illegal. (“State of the …”, n. d.
)Legal requirements will have to be met to limit the forest clearance for the bio fuel demand as well. “State of the world’s …”, n. d. ) Projects are created to start reforestation and they are directed to protect environmental services such as water shades and to maintain biodiversity. Adjustments in water and land constrains are needed urgently towards promoting the supply of requirements of wood products and wood.
(“State of the world’s …”, n. d. ) Globally, there is a trend to greatly rely on plantations as the main source of industrial timber. The global plantation establishment has been led by Asia. Over 60 percent of all plantations of forests were located in Asia.
Investments in plantations in developing countries by the private sector and foreigners have significantly raised forest expansion schemes known as ‘out grower’. (“State of the …”, n. d. ) In agroforestry, a selected timber species is grown in association with annual crops or pasture. This can improve crop production, uphold nutrient cycling and soil fertility, and reduce pressure on the natural forests. (Sabelli, n.
d. ) The status of ‘protected area’ is given to nearly 12 per cent of the forests of Africa as forests are being re-designated as ‘protected zones’.In some Asian countries, there have been inadequate implementations, but bans in Sri Lanka and New Zealand have shifted to alternative sources from harvesting and have proved to be effective. In Nepal, rules were implemented in 1974 for forest user groups to handle certain areas.
The groups of forest users manage, protect, use the area of the forest, share all the benefits among themselves and have the total rights to the income of the forests. Managing landscapes and integrating ecosystems which are broadly approached forms of forest management are evolving to be more accepted and practiced. (“State of the …”, n. . )During the past decade, the civil society has strongly promoted the ‘certification of forest management’ as it is an instrument which is market-based allowing consumers to identify wood products that have good environmental standards. The FSC, the EMS and the National Certification Schemes are the three main approaches in certification.
Here, those forests that are managed in a better way are certified and provided with an incentive of a market. To protect the national market and to overcome environmental problems, certain countries have currently introduced restrictions on imports as well.Forest industries are also continuing to adapt to changes in the unprocessed materials, increasing the supply of wood from plantations and of a much more variety in the range of the type of the plant. At present, a number of innovative methods have emerged to make maximum use of currently available supplies and the remaining timber as well as the waste.
Developments such as glued and laminated timber, enclosed veneer timber and wood fiber based products etc. are a few to illustrate this.