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CAUSES OF DEFORESTATION

1. Logging:

For timber
Poor lumbering practices, trees do not grow in pure stands therefore other trees are damaged.
Introduction of technology to increase demand (bulldozers)
Marketable species are exploited.

2. Agriculture:
Shifting cultivation in the hill slopes of Caribbean countries prevalent in Guyana and Belize.
Large scale commercial agriculture plantation crops eg rubber and palm oil in SE Asia and Soya
bean in Brazil.
Cattle ranching in the Brazilian forest has cleared 20 million acres of forest.

3. Mining:
Land has been cleared to cut roads to haul out minerals eg OMAI mines in Guyana.
In Jamaica 70% of the forest has been cut for bauxite mining and for leisure (tourism).

4. Population pressure and settlement:


With an increase in population, land is cleared for the construction of houses, buildings etc.
Trees are cut for fuel wood (Dominica and Grenada) for cooking and domestic heating.
Land is cleared for farming, squatting (illegal) and road building.
Land is cleared for drainage and infrastructural development.

5. Industrial development:
Land is needed for construction sites, mangrove cleared, land is reclaimed, development of ports
etc.
Land is also cleared to facilitate tourism activities (construction of hotels, resorts)

NEGATIVE IMPACTS OF DEFORESTATION

SOIL EROSION: In areas of high rainfall, deforestation causes soil erosion. The tree canopy
provides an effective shield against heavy rainfall. Dead and decaying matter (leaf litter and
humus) act as s sponge absorbing some of the rainfall. The soil is thus protected from the direct
impact of raindrops. In addition, tree roots and animal burrows allow rain water to infiltrate the
soil keeping the soil moist and reducing run off. Once the trees are removed, the top soil is
eroded quickly leaving behind an impermeable layer of laterites rich in aluminium and iron
which hardens on exposure to the sun (less infiltration and more run off).
LOSS OF NUTRIENTS: The removal of trees interferes with the nutrient cycle. Most of the
nutrients are stored in the biomass and litter reservoirs. These will quickly decompose due to
high humidity and heat. Much of what is decomposed will return to the soil to be used as
organic fertiliser. However with the removal of trees, by practices such as slash and burn,
nutrient levels of the soil are greatly reduced. There is less organic matter. The heavy rainfall will
leach the fertile soil away faster with the absence of trees.
SILTATION AND FLOODING: Once trees are deforested, the soil would run off easily. The soil will
travel down slope to streams and rivers contaminating water supplies and increasing the load of
rivers, The rivers bed will be raised and contaminated with silt, freshwater ecosystems are
affected (fish and aquatic species). Hydro-electric power plants are affected as turbines are
stopped form generating electricity. Flooding is also caused by increased run off as laterite soils
harden form compaction caused by logging exercises (weight of heavy machinery). There is also
more water form reduced evapo-transpiration.
LOSS OF BIODIVERSITY: Forests account for 90% of global diversity of animal species. There is a
loss of flora and fauna with the cutting of trees. As trees are removed, there is a lack of food and
shelter for animals. Cleared land is more accessible to hunters who hunt animals for meat or for
pet trade. The loss of habitats as they become fragmented or destroyed as a direct result of
logging, mining and agriculture reduces biodiversity. A number of endangered species are under
threat.
TOURISM: an important source of income to many Caribbean countries. People are attracted to
the diversity found in the tropical rainforests. The promotion of ecotourism is a prospective way
of developing the tourism industry. Although tourist activities do contribute to deforestation, the
industry gains from visitors who travel to these pristine environments for bird watching nature
trails etc. A loss of forest means a loss in valuable foreign exchange and income earned from the
tourism sector. The tourism industry will be greatly affected by the removal of forest.
GLOBAL IMPACT/CLIMATE CHANGE: The rainforest performs many ecological services or
functions that are useful to humans. These include recycling of nutrients, regulation of the water
cycle, biological productivity, absorption of CO, production of oxygen and the control of erosion.
Forests are called the lungs of the world because of the billion of forest trees that absorb CO
and produce oxygen. In so doing they regulate atmospheric gas composition and processes.
Tropical forests are carbon sinks, help preventing the build up of GHGs which leads to global
warming. When trees are cut and burnt, more carbon is released into the atmosphere. With
global warming come other environmental issues like changes in weather patterns, sea level rise
and coastal erosion.

CONSERVING THE FOREST/POSITIVE IMPACT/ SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT

SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMEMENT/LOGGING:

Low impact logging one way to achieve sustainable management of the forest. Under low
impact logging a forester marks each tree with a registration number, identifies the species and
records the position of the trees using a GPS monitor which uses satellite technology. Selection
can be done before harvesting.
An inventory of valuable timber can be created. The land can be divided into strips and a few
trees of each species at a time can be harvested. A forest inventory map should guide selection
to ensure damage to the forest is minimal.
Where possible, winches should be used instead of bulldozers for log extraction. Helicopters
could lift out cut trees avoiding the need for logging roads.
International certificates can be issued for sustainably managed tropical hardwoods. Traders
should advertise their timber as originating from forests that5 have been certified as being
sustainably managed
Establishing a forest management plan (St. Lucia). It entails zoning forests and logging into:
1. Protection forest no cutting on steep slopes
2. Protection/production forest controlled harvesting
3. Production for timber production, species grow quickly
REAFFORESTATION PROGRAMS

Involves planting trees. The Guyanese government has set up a number of projects with
monetary aid form the World Wide Fund for nature and the world conservation union. These
have involved replanting local species of trees that have been cut down. In the Barima region
local communities are growing Manicole palm to replant in local forests. As part of their
reforestation program, seedlings are grown in nurseries, trees are grown in watershed areas and
the practice of agro forestry is common (planting trees and crops).

GUYANAS CASE STUDY

1. Aim : To utilise forest resources which can be managed sustainably.

Seeds form crabwood tree produces soaps and shampoos or insect repellent.
Wild honey

2. Extraction of trees without disturbance

3. Eco-tourism:
Small scale nature trails (Georgetown).
Overhead walkway in forest canopy
Rich wildlife, 1500 species flowers and 400 mammals. Highest diversity of fish species

4. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) awards a certificate to companies that have demonstrated
environmentally friendly practices (low impact logging and reforestation programmes). More consumers
are buying wood with FSC stamp.

5. Satellite monitoring to check for illegal logging. Using satellites it would be possible to digitally tag
timber and track its movement. Low impact logging in Iwokrama.