What are the Causes and Effects of Deforestation?

Deforestation involves the cutting down, burning, and damaging of forests.

Deforestation can be defined as the change of forest with depletion of tree crown cover more than 90%. However, depletion of forest tree crown cover less than 90% is considered forest degradation.

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Causes of Deforestation:

The main causes of deforestation are summarized below:


(i) Population explosion

(ii) Agriculture: shifting cultivation, overgrazing, cash crop economy etc.

(iii) Commercial logging: cutting trees for sale as timber or pulp

(iv) Poverty


(v) Mining

(vi) Dams

(vii) Infrastructure creation for logging

(viii) Forest-fires


(ix) Acid rain

(x) Development projects and housing projects.

Image Source: assets.worldwildlife.org

Effects of Deforestation:

The ill-effects of deforestation are summarized below:

(i) Soil erosion:

Soil is exposed to wind, sunlight, and evaporation due to deforestation. Soil fertility goes down due to soil erosion and rapid leaching of essential mineral nutrients.

(ii) Harm to fisheries:

As the soil is eroded, it accelerates siltation in dams, rivers, and the coastal zone. The increased sedimentation harms downstream fisheries.

(iii) More floods and droughts:

Because of deforestation, there is no regulation of the flow into rivers. As result, floods and droughts alternate in the affected areas.

(iv) Habitat loss of wildlife:

Butterflies, migratory birds, wild animals suffer due to the loss of their habitat.

(v) Extinction of some species:

Many species are affected and some get extincted.

(vi) Local and global climate changes:

The rainfall pattern is affected as the forest is cut down. Local and global climate changes may result from deforestation.

(vii) Global warming:

If the trees are burned, the carbon is released immediately as carbon dioxide which leads to global warming.

(viii) Danger for the survival of local communities:

Communities lose their source of food, fuel, construction materials and areas for livestock grazing by deforestation.


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