Deforestation is a severe concern to present-day society and a highly controversial question. Thus, estimations of deforestation rates differ in different sources, and some data state that as much as 85% of global forests have been destroyed due to various reasons.
Furthermore, there are multiple opinions about the main culprits like timber harvesting, illegal logging, clear-cutting, palm oil deforestation, and more. These disputes spread different deforestation myths.
The two terms are often confused, yet they don’t necessarily mean the same. Generally, clear-cutting is a forest regeneration practice since trees are removed to inspire further offspring growth. Conversely, deforestation is tree logging without additional reforestation. In this regard, clear-cutting is sustainable, while deforestation is not. What is more, clear-cutting is helpful for forest health since it promotes the growth of more vigorous trees.
The only exception when clear-cutting can be regarded as deforestation is when trees are felled for agricultural, urban, industrial use, road or power line construction, etc. In this case, forest lands are converted for other purposes that don’t suggest tree revival.
Clear-cutting monitoring with further forest regeneration control is a reliable technology to make the situation clear.
The statement is but partially true and is specific for each country. Logging causes deforestation only when forests are not restored after felling. Indeed, logging and timber production are responsible for 70% of forest degradation in Asia and Latin America, but the situation is dramatically different in the USA and Canada.
Most governments oblige official logging companies to replant the cut areas soon after harvesting, which helps restore the balance. Forests can also re-grow naturally after logging, the same as they do after forest fires, but natural re-growth is insufficient and thus requires human assistance.
Logging is often considered to be the primary deforestation driver mistakenly. The main culprit is agriculture, contributing the impressive 80% deforestation share. It makes the most significant impact on:
- Latin America,
It is not. Indeed, forests are cut to provide areas for grazing. However, alongside beef production, forest lands are converted to farming also due to soybean and oil palm cultivation. Soybeans are pretty edible for humans and favoured by vegans, but these legumes are mainly grown as livestock forage. This is why, technically, poultry and cattle breeding can indirectly cause deforestation when forests are cut to grow soybeans.
Palm oil is an in-demand commodity with multiple applications, including pharmacy, food procession, cosmetology, personal hygiene, bio-fuel production, and many more. As for food, palm oil can be found in versatile products like:
- baby formula,
- ice cream,
- chips, and whatnot.
So, beef is certainly NOT the only food relating to deforestation.
Consuming palm oil is not necessarily bad, thanks to zero-deforestation commitments by many palm oil manufacturers. It means that oil palm production does not always lead to deforestation. It depends on the legality and transparency of palm oil processors’ supply chains, regulated on governmental and non-governmental levels. To meet the requirements of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) of 2004, manufacturers are to shift to zero palm oil deforestation.
Besides, oil palm is the highest oil-containing plant supporting around 35% of global vegetable oil needs. It means that it requires the smallest territory compared to other vegetable crops. So, it will cause less deforestation than, for example, soybean cultivation.
Thus, avoiding palm oil use won’t solve the problem. The main thing is to consume palm oil that derives from legal supply chains.
It is disputable, even though illegal logging is terrible. In African countries, small wood-cutters do more good for local communities since they provide timber for procession inside the country while huge companies log trees primarily for export. The good side is that small wood-cutters contribute to employment, struggle with poverty, and production of goods, improving the life level of the local population.
It is not true since agriculture remains by far the main deforestation driver nowadays as described above. As for the wood raw material for furniture and paper products, the corresponding enterprises have to adjust their facilities to available supplies, greatly relying on recycling sources.
Even though wood is used for heating, it is not the biggest driver of deforestation. Logging for energy won’t lead to deforestation if forests are replanted or allowed to regenerate naturally. The biggest evil to forests is their conversion for agricultural use because it gives the highest returns compared to other purposes.
There exist numerous myths about deforestation drivers, and their misperception won’t solve the problem. Though it is often considered that clear-cutting, illegal logging, and paper production lead to deforestation, the main culprit is agriculture due to the best ROIs. Forests lands disappear due to oil palm, soybeans, and beef production.
Nonetheless, avoiding these commodities won’t make the situation any better. Instead, consuming responsibly and producing legally, regular people and manufacturers will mitigate forest losses. Remote sensing will help to keep deforestation under control.
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