7 Mar 2014

Deforestation: Causes, Impacts, and Solutions

Ruoxue Summer Cheng writes:*

Deforestation is an important environmental issue in British Columbia, where lumber is a major economic export.

There are several reasons why deforestation occurs. Trees are cut down for lumber. Lumber can be exported, or used to make products like paper. There is huge consumer demand for paper. People use it for writing and printing, but also for paper towels for cleaning, and toilet paper for sanitation. The use of lumber is not, however, the only reason why deforestation occurs. Trees and forests are also cut down to create cleared land for farming and agriculture, as well as for new industrial developments. Sometimes forests are cleared to make room for residential or commercial properties.

There are major concerns related to deforestation. Clearing forests means that there are fewer plants to clean the air. Clearing trees can lead to erosion, since roots hold the soil in place. Cutting down forests also reduces opportunities for tourism. Some of these impacts are local, while others have global effects. The severe impacts mean that deforestation is a problem that needs to be solved.

Lumber is a renewable resource, and can be used responsibly if new forests are planted to replace the ones that are destroyed. Using recycled products can reduce the demand for paper. Other solutions involve regulations requiring loggers to plant new trees to replace cleared trees, or to prevent the destruction of old growth forests.

Bottom Line: If used sustainably, forests are a truly renewable resource.

* These guest posts are from students in my resource economics class at Simon Fraser University. Please leave feedback on their logic, ideas and style and suggestions of how to improve.