Deforestation in the United States and Its Effect on the Environment
If you’re getting to know someone, a common question you might ask is if they prefer beaches or mountains. If you ask me, I’d camp in the mountains for a week straight rather than spend a few days at the beach. I just love the beautiful trees and smell of fresh air. Unfortunately, the forests in the United States are in danger. Deforestation is wiping out large percentages of our forests. Also, it has a negative effect on the environment. However, there are simple solutions to these problems.
What Is Deforestation?
Deforestation means to wipe out trees in order to make room on the land for other uses. These reasons are farming, to make money, and natural causes. Deforestation isn’t always a man-made problem. Sometimes, bugs will infect a group of trees and kill them. When trees are killed in this way, it makes it difficult for trees to regrow. For example, the mountain pine beetle wiped out acres and acres of trees. This decreased tree growth by 48% in the area. In order for a removal of trees to be considered deforestation, 10% of trees need to be wiped out.
The United States has Removed A Lot of Trees
Before the United States was settled, it was 46% forest. Within 200 years, the United States was only 33% forest. This means that 13% of forests were removed! The eastern part of the United States was effected more because that’s where a majority of people lived. Next, fast forward to the present, and we are still removing forests. Between 1990 and 2010, about 949,150 acres of forest were lost each year. That’s a lot of timber! Basically, a majority of the United States forests have been removed since people settled the country.
Deforestation Effects the Environment
Deforestation has a negative impact on the environment. First, it contributes to climate change. Trees produce oxygen which helps balance out the climate. When trees are wiped out, then oxygen levels decrease. There is a lot of heavy machinery that helps remove forests. Those machines produce gases into the environment. Therefore, deforestation releases 20% of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s more than fossil fuels! Next, removing forests takes away the homes of many creatures. You may think that those creatures would die out because of it. You’d be correct, but deforestation also has a differing effect on animals. Sometimes, deforestation forces predators to leave. When predators leave an area, all the animals that were once prey are now safe. Therefore, prey animal populations increase and have nowhere to go. Deforestation effects the skies and the ground.
There are Solutions!
First, you can reverse the effects of deforestation by planting trees in clusters. This is called reforestation. Replacing trees that were once removed is a great way to replace oxygen and provide a home for animals. Deforestation is often offset by reforestation. There are plenty of groups within the United States that focus on reforestation. Next, you can use reusable items. When paper products are made it means that trees are cut down. If we, collectively, limit how many paper products we use, then we can save a few trees. A little goes a long way with this!
In conclusion, deforestation has impacted the United States. Deforestation became an issue when people settled into the United States. It is still a problem throughout the country. Also, the environment is effected by deforestation because trees are essential for a balanced climate. However, reforestation is the key to reversing the effects of deforestation. Overall, we need both forests and farm land. Sometimes we will need to make a sacrifice and forests will lose. There are plenty of places we can plant trees that aren’t used for other purposes. Deforestation doesn’t have to be a problem because we can be a solution.