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Who Is to Blame for Deforestation?

Among the many factors that contribute to global warming, deforestation is the one that should be easiest to fix. However, just because it should be easy to fix doesn’t mean that positive change is happening. On the contrary, many governments throughout the world are allowing deforestation to continue all but unchecked in the name of economic growth. If this is allowed to continue, not only will greenhouse gases continue to grow, but we’ll also lose a substantial portion of our planet’s biodiversity, which would be an irreversible tragedy.

Deforestation is a global problem, and stopping it in all the areas where it is rampant is one of the biggest challenges the human race now faces. Undoubtedly there will be areas where deforestation will continue, but we still need to do what we can to save the forests that can be saved. Aside from the governments that let deforestation continue, who are the biggest culprits behind this trend?

1. Subsistence agriculture: For those who aren’t familiar with agricultural practices, substance farming is small-scale crop growing, typically done by individuals, households, or villages. It’s one of the main forms of employment in many poor and developing countries throughout the world. Subsistence farming happens to be the biggest source of deforestation, but because it’s relatively small on a farm-by-farm basis, it’s not quite as destructive. Many subsistence farmers, understanding that trees are essential for keeping their soil healthy, take care to allow the foliage to grow back at regular intervals. Ideally, we would regulate other types deforestation while giving subsistence farmers better tools to do their work nondestructively.

2. Commercial farming: Commercial agriculture, mostly on the part of large corporations, creates approximately one third of all the deforestation in the world, and this number is growing. Unlike subsistence farmers, agricultural corporations generally don’t have strong feelings about the land they work, so they don’t take those extra steps needed to ensure that the land stays healthy. For the most part, these companies just cut down large swaths of forest without worrying about the effects. When it comes to stopping deforestation, reigning in these companies needs to be the top priority.

3. Logging: The cutting down of wood for manufacturing purposes is a large industry, but it still only accounts for about 15% of global deforestation. Although the effects if logging are relatively small when compared to commercial farming, we do need to work to make sure that logging companies use sustainable practices. One idea that has been put forward but not enacted so far is to require logging companies to plant a tree for every one they cut down. Meanwhile, it’s also crucial to keep these companies away from forests where ecosystems or species are threatened.

4. Fuel: Those of us in the developed world tend to forget that there are millions of people around the globe who still use wood as a source of fuel and warmth. While we can’t in good conscience ban such activities, what we can do is make sure these people have other sources of fuel.