WHAT IS DEFORESTATION?
Deforestation is when humans remove or clear large areas of forest lands and related ecosystems for non-forest use. These include clearing for farming purposes, ranching and urban use. In these cases, trees are never re-planted.
Forests cover 31% of the land area on our planet. They produce vital oxygen and provide homes for people and wildlife. Many of the world’s most threatened and endangered animals live in these forest. 1.6 billion People rely on benefits forests offer, including food, fresh water, clothing, traditional medicine and shelter.
“The rate at which deforestation is occurring here will convert Zimbabwe into an outright desert in just 35 years if pragmatic solutions are not proffered urgently and also if people keep razing down trees for firewood without regulation,” Marylin Smith, an independent conservationist.
At least six million tons of timber are consumed annually for fuel, about 1.4 million tons more than Zimbabwe’s forests can sustainably provide, according to Zimbabwe’s Forestry Commission. That means Zimbabwe is losing 330,000 hectares (more than 815,000 acres) of forest – over 60 million trees a year. The current planting rate is about 8 million a year.
Causes of deforestation
Debate on these issues has identified a number of causes including
expansion of arable land: Agricultural activities: As earlier mentioned in the overview, agricultural activities are one of the major factors affecting deforestation. Due to overgrowing demand for food products, huge amount of tress are fell down to grow crops and for cattle grazing.
Use as wood fuel: demand for fuel-wood especially in off grid areas
Construction poles and timber
Urban expansion: Overpopulation too has directly affected forest covers, as with the expansion of cities more land is needed to establish housing and settlements. Therefore forest land is reclaimed.
Fires: Another example would be forest blazes; Hundreds of trees are lost each year due to forest fires in various parts of Zimbabwe, especially in hotter parts of the country. This happens due to extreme warm summers and milder winters. Fires, whether causes by man or nature results in huge loss of forest cover.
Effects of Deforestation
Climate impacts, Global warming (burning releases CO2
River siltation (sedimentation resulting depletion of water sources)
Loss of biodiversity
Struggle to meet international commitments to protect endangered species and biodiversity, which also rely on thriving forests.