Commodities Industry Turns Trees into Cash, Fuel and Waste
Deforestation is clearing our planet’s forests on a massive scale, often resulting in damage to the quality of the land. Forests still cover about 30% of the world’s land area, but huge areas are lost each year to commercial interests.
The data shows that the world’s rain forests could completely vanish in a 100 years at the current rate of deforestation.
Forests are cut down for many reasons, but most of them are related to money or to people’s need to provide shelter and food.
The biggest driver of deforestation is agriculture.
Farmers cut forests to provide more room for planting crops or grazing livestock. Often many small farmers will each clear a few acres to feed their families by cutting down trees and burning them in a process known as “slash and burn” agriculture.
Logging operations, which provide the world’s wood for building and paper products for home and office, also cut countless trees each year.
Loggers, legal and illegal, build roads to access remote forests, and that leads to more deforestation.
Forests are also cut to provide builders with land as the urban landscape expands.
But, not all deforestation is intentional.
Some is caused by a combination of human and natural factors like wildfires and subsequent overgrazing, which often prevents the growth of young trees.
Deforestation has many negative effects on the environment.
The most dramatic impact is a loss of habitat for millions of species. Fully 70% of Earth’s land animals and plants live in forests, and many cannot survive the deforestation that destroys their habitat
Deforestation also drives climate change.
Forest soils are moist, but without protection from Sun-blocking tree cover they quickly dry out. Trees help perpetuate the water cycle by returning water vapor back into the atmosphere. Without trees to fill these roles, many former forest lands can become barren deserts in a short time.
Removing trees deprives the forest of portions of its canopy, which blocks the Sun’s rays during the day and holds in heat at night. This disruption leads to more extreme temperatures swings that can be harmful to plants and animals.
Trees also play a Key role in absorbing the Greenhouse gases that fuel global warming. Fewer forests means larger amounts of Greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere, and increased speed and severity of global warming according to environmental scientist.
The best solution to deforestation is to stop cutting down trees. And the ones that are cut for use in building be protected with technology that give the wood a long and strong life, free from rot, termites, mold, fire and water damage.
Though deforestation rates have slowed some, financial realities in the commodities work against these sustainable solutions.
The people, business, and government must work together to manage forest resources by eliminating clear-cutting to make sure that forest environments remain intact.
The cutting that does occur should be balanced by the planting of enough young trees to replace the older ones felled in any given forest. The number of new tree plantations is growing each year, but their total still equals a small fraction of the Earth’s forested land.
Here is an example of wanton disregard of our trees as a natural resources: The largest San Francisco Bay Area forest clearcut in 100 years began in August 2015. An estimated 450,000 healthy, mature trees in the Oakland and Berkeley Hills and county Parklands were destine to be cut down and chopped into logs, and shredder into wood chips.
Below is a list of places included in that deforestation plan, as follows:
- 325 acres of trees in Tilden Regional Park
- 200 acres of trees in Anthony Chabot Regional Park
- 152 acres of trees in Claremont Canyon Preserve
- 162 acres of trees in Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve
- 112 acres of trees in Wildcat Canyon Regional Park
- 151 acres of trees in Redwood Regional Park
The public is was mostly unaware of the plan. There was no website or overview provided by the 3 agencies doing the clear cutting—East Bay Regional Parks District, City of Oakland and UC Berkeley presumably because of public outrage if the huge numbers of trees to be felled were known.
The plan also included, get this…
- Applying thousands of gallons of Monsanto Roundup and Dow Garlon to tens of thousands of tree stumps, 2X each year, or as needed, to prevent re-sprouting, in perpetuity. These toxic chemicals will leach into land, groundwater, mammals, birds and people who use the Parklands.
- No replanting of any kind, so this is not habitat “restoration” as claimed by the clearcutters, but forest habitat destruction
- The felling of 450,000 trees will release huge amounts of sequestered/stored carbon in our era of anthropogenic climate change, itself caused in part by deforestation. Deforestation contributes more Greenhouse gases (20%) than the entire transportation sector: cars, planes, buses, trains, trucks, etc. combined (14%).
- The huge deforestation will increase fire danger in the East Bay hills by destroying over 2,000 acres of shade-making forest canopy. Live trees will be cut down into dead logs and chips that will then be left on the ground to dry out. From a fire suppression perspective, the fuel load will be changed from living forest with shaded canopy to dead wood drying in direct Summer Sun. The wood lays at ground level, among grasses and shrubs where the majority of East Bay urban wildfires start. As was the case with the devastating 1991 Oakland hills fire.
- In this major loss of wildlife habitat, thousands of birds, and small animals were driven from their precious and dwindling forest homes.
Protect our Forest, protect our Planet, protect our Way of Life.