Repercussions of deforestation are enormous; there is no doubt that the full effects of human actions are yet to be experienced. Changes include:

·         cutting down entire forests,

·         demolishing coral reefs,

·         creating a hole in the ozone layer,

·         causing the extinction of millions of species, and more.

Said changes are irreversible at their current pace, and human survival on this planet will be increasingly difficult as resources are exhausted and global climate changes. The global effects of deforestation can be simplified into: environmental and social, both local and global effects. These groupings are intertwined, both effecting and affecting each other. Deforestation is increasing and action needs to be taken: “The rate of forest loss, especially in the tropics, which constituents a larger proportion (56 percent or approximately 2 billion ha) of the world’s forests, has been on the increase over the past 3 to 5 decades” (Benhin).

Atmospheric Effects

The basic process that trees and vegetation take in carbon dioxide along with other harmful pollutants and through processes of respiration, convert them into oxygen for almost all other life on earth to survive. The rise of manufacturing since the industrial revolution has emitted a monstrous amount of toxic pollutants into the atmosphere. Forests then take the bulk of the toxins from the atmosphere, run it through their natural purification system and release a form more acceptable. Unfortunately, trees have not been spared: millions, especially those found in the Amazon forests, have instead made a massive contribution to the worlds’ miserly economy. 

Furthermore, the majority of the Amazon forest is dubbed an old growth forest, acting as a carbon sink. Carbon sinks hold an immense amount of carbon, while alive, but once these forests are removed their storage of carbon stops. On top of their destruction, the methods of either slash-and-burn, or being cut and left to decay, releases the carbon is back into the air and years of work are lost. Just in the Amazon, it is estimated that trees contain: “more carbon than 10 years worth of human-produced greenhouse gases” (Lindsey). Deforestation and degradation are sources of carbon: returning this carbon to the atmosphere increases the effect of global warming. Coming decades hold the threat of establishing South America as an even bigger source.

Species Extinction

Tropical forests only encompass about seven percent of the Earth’s dry surface; however they contain over half of all Earth’s species (Lindsey). The loss of biodiversity due deforestation is a repercussion that is not a main concern in the world today. And yet, diversity in the gene pool of plants and animals alike is extremely vital to the continuation of life on the planet. Deforestation can instantly cause extinction to small insects and other organisms, while the larger reality is that the food chain is shrinking severely. This affects life forms at all levels and will have a gradual effect on the world.

Climate Change

Similar to rays of sun bouncing off of the polar ice caps and back out through the atmosphere, falling precipitation is intercepted by forest canopies and evaporates back into the atmosphere. This process limits the amount of water that is able to get to the ground and runoff the surface. The outcome of deforestation appears as is increased soil erosion, carried off into streams and rivers, polluting vital drinking water. Half of the water in the rainforest is contained in trees, through the process of transpiration it is released back into the atmosphere.  This ensures that the forest region remains moist, allowing natural processes to continue. Removing forests means the specific regions are incapable of containing the necessary about of moisture and will inevitably become drier. 

Impacts on the Community

Local communities, such as the indigenous peoples living within the Amazon forest, are most affected by deforestation. Communities are supplied with fresh water, a balance in temperature, a shield against landslides and a secure location from droughts and floods. With all of these factors evolving into risks: people will undoubtedly be displaced, lose their homes and at the extreme, lose their lives. Displacement of indigenous peoples is a governmental decision, resulting from the offering of forests and resources to corporations. Indigenous communities are often not consulted and not a part of the economic decisions that affect their homes (Fiset).

The global community too suffers enormously. Deforestation is contributing to the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and global warming. Attributed devastations will most likely depress economies and force people into poverty, causing a higher output of pollution and intensifying the situation as a whole. Tropical forests are mainly confined to third world countries, but they are not only meeting national needs, but through economic globalization, the wants of the world are on them too.  Bearing down on developing nations is: “direct causes of deforestation are agricultural expansion, wood extraction (e.g., logging or wood harvest for domestic fuel or charcoal), and infrastructure expansion such as road building and urbanization” (Lindsey).

Inadequate Research and Recent Development

With limited knowledge of the extent of human actions, and minimal research into lesser-known rainforest uses, the reality is:

Adequate funds and research have not gone into discovering the pharmaceutical potential of the rainforest’s diversity. Within the genes of undiscovered life forms may be the answers to diseases like cancer, or the key to increasing crop yield, or the nutritional quality of food. Said food, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization states: “will be crucial for feeding the nearly ten billion people the Earth will likely need to support in coming decades” (Lindsey). Strategies to protect and preserve the forests to be researched can occur on all scales: from the inhabitant to the corporation and the world. Recently, organizations and governments are contributing to the forest sectors by encouraging agriculture that has a lessened effect on the area. Alternatives such as shade farming and sustainable harvesting are on the rise. Taking advantage of the economic demand for non-timber products of rubber, cork, fruits or medicinal vegetation is beneficial. Tourism also has a draw, with employment and education being offered to inhabitants an improved option to subsistence farming.