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Wildlife and Deforestation

Deforestation has been a huge controversy for environmentalists. Many people argue about the benefits of deforestation, but they ignore the negative effects it does have. Those who support deforestation can explore the economic benefits of deforestation. Deforestation may have economic benefits, but nonetheless, the negatives far outweigh the positives. Deforestation destroys animals’ natural habitats. When a species’ natural habitat disappears, it becomes difficult for the species to adapt, leading to extinction. The end result of deforestation is a dramatic reduction in biodiversity.

In “The Benefits of Deforestation”, Nathalie Fiset focuses on the economic benefits of deforestation. She claimed that wood products are one of the most stable building materials in human society, and human beings cannot live without wood products (Fiset). This is true to a certain extent, but we are moving towards a paperless society. Today, almost everything runs electronically. For example, people can now pay almost any bill online; no documents are involved. Also, when people vote, they do so electronically. No more paper ballots. When human society is learning to live without paper products, there is no reason why so many trees must be cut down. Today, most paper companies use recycled materials instead of trees.

Another point Fiset makes is that deforestation can create many jobs. She points out that when environmentalists oppose deforestation, it causes many people working in wood products to lose those jobs (Fiset). Is deforestation really worth it if you look at it from a perspective? One can always get up and find another job. When these people destroy the homes of millions, the animals have nowhere to go. Animals have a hard time finding new homes. Adapting to a new environment takes generations. When these workers lose their jobs, there are many environmental jobs these workers can do. For example, they can monitor forests and wildlife instead of cutting down trees and destroying natural habitats. Another job option is to work for a paper recycling company. Instead of cutting them down, they can save trees by recycling waste paper. Instead of destroying natural habitats, these workers can work for a company that represents good things.

Fiset believes that when companies destroy forests, they can easily make up for the loss by planting more trees to replace the old ones (Fiset). When lumberjacks cut down trees, they can’t simply plant more trees and that’s it. In a single forest, with various types of trees, it takes hundreds of years to create a vast forest that largely supports biodiversity and all the wildlife that inhabits it. Often, when forests are destroyed, companies only plant one or two trees to make up for what they cut down. Certain animals need a specific tree to live or support their families. When humans only plant a single tree, they can have a hard time adapting, eventually leading to extinction. When natural habitats are destroyed, most animals are killed in the process or some of them escape. However, by the time the animals returned, their home had completely disappeared. For example, many birds that built their nests in different kinds of trees that were destroyed now have to raise their families in open fields, only to ask predators to eat the offspring of these birds. This happens because they can’t adapt quickly enough to the new tree to support themselves. When a species goes extinct, there is no turning back. Once they leave, they are gone forever.

Her final claim is that deforestation helps find more natural resources such as oil, gas and coal (Fiset). The automotive industry is embarking on a new revolution, introducing more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles. America is moving away from natural, non-renewable resources. The effects of burning coal have greatly contributed to global warming, with O-ZONE levels plummeting, protecting the planet from harmful UV rays from the sun. So coal is not the main thing we should be looking for. There are many other ways of electricity. There are wind, solar, geothermal, hydro and tidal energy. All of these energy sources do not require natural resources, they are renewable and do little damage to the planet. If deforestation continues, more species will decline.

In the Amazon forest, there are thousands of different creatures. One particular study conducted by scientists was to document how stingless bees adapt to deforestation. According to the article, these specific species of bees are not only important to the environment, but also economically and culturally to humans. Many people would say that bees are unimportant, but to people living in and around the Amazon, bees are sacred. Some even treat these stingless bees as pets. Honey produced by stingless bees has many different uses. People can obviously eat honey or use it in certain recipes, and they can use it to make balché, an alcoholic drink. Another benefit of these bees is pollinating farmers’ crops. Without bees, there would be no crops to produce the food farmers need to sell.

In a study of these stingless bees, scientists traveled to different areas of the Amazon affected by deforestation and collected bees to see how they adapted to deforestation. As a result, they found seven different species of stingless bees, but only two of them appeared to be immune to deforestation (McCoy and Musinski). This means that five species of stingless bees are vulnerable to extinction. This is just one example of how deforestation can destroy a species.

Another animal at risk from deforestation is the ring-tailed lemur. The monkeys live in Madagascar, but companies are clearing forests and destroying lemur habitat due to Madagascar’s rapidly increasing population. Many scientists believe that lemurs make rainforests healthy (Butler). There are only about 50 species of lemurs left. Deforestation puts a lot of pressure on these lemurs living in Madagascar. Evidence shows that many different species, from bees to monkeys, are affected by deforestation.

Cutting down trees to build farms, cities and houses only destroys natural habitats. These are just the main effects. Most people ignore other impacts of deforestation. An example of a secondary impact of deforestation is the introduction of pollutants into forests. When a company clears an acre of forest, they use trucks to deposit harmful pollutants in wildlife. Researchers have found that thousands of harmful chemicals are introduced into the natural environment, disrupting the neurological, immune, endocrine and reproductive cycles of animals exposed to these chemicals (Hose and Guillette 87). It also has major implications for endangered species, as they may struggle to reproduce when affected by these pollutants. This means that the number of endangered species will not increase or make extinction difficult.

However, there are solutions humans can take to help prevent harmful products from entering the natural environment. One solution is to observe very closely the toxins exposed to the environment. This will limit how many chemicals can pollute the environment and get the breeding cycle back on track. Another solution might be to understand the chemicals that are being distributed into these environments. Once people know how bad these chemicals really are, then they may stop using them. A final solution is to create model ecosystems, such as restoration facilities, to help reform the endocrine system (Hose and Guillette 88-89).

Although deforestation is taking a toll on wildlife, there are still groups trying to help some struggling animals in the wild. These organizations create recovery plans for endangered animals. Scientists can measure the success rate of these facilities, and the success rate is usually very high. It is easier to measure the success of one facility at a time (McCoy and Mushinski). Deforestation may be destroying some animal lives, but when humans take small steps to help the natural environment, they are one step closer to ultimately helping endangered species.

There are many examples of how deforestation can benefit, but many are just looking at what they can do for humans. Proponents want to destroy habitats in search of natural resources that can and will destroy the planet. Global warming is widespread, and deforestation is just adding fuel to the fire. Also, when an acre of forest is destroyed, the homes of millions of animals are destroyed. When the homes of these animals that live in the forests that are cleared every day disappear, they have no protection for themselves or their offspring. This is a major issue for biodiversity. Thousands of species go extinct every day, drastically reducing the planet’s biodiversity. Deforestation has many benefits for humans, but it is a huge problem for the natural environment.

Butler, Rhett A. “Lemurs are key to the health of Madagascar’s tropical rainforest.” Mongabe. Year 2008. May 5, 2009.
Fissette, Natalie. “The Benefits of Deforestation.” Electronic Journal. April 30, 2009.
Hose, JE and Guillette, LJ “Defining the role of pollutants in the reproductive distribution of wildlife”. Environmental Health Perspectives 103 (1995): 87-91. JSTOR. Western Illinois University Libraries. April 2, 2009
Brown, Christopher J. and Albrecht, Christian. “Impacts of tropical deforestation on the genus Stingless Bee.” Journal of Biogeography. 28.5 (2001): 623-634. JSTOR. Western Illinois University Libraries. April 2, 2009
McCoy, Earl D and Mushinski, Henry R. “Measuring Wildlife Community Recovery Success.” ecological application. 12.6 (2002): 1861-1871. JSTOR. Western Illinois University Libraries. April 2, 2009

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