A treeless canopy

October 28, 2017

 

Countries are idealistically supposed to dedicate 20% to 30% of its land area to forests.

 

We truly don’t contemplate much for most of us are ignorant of the knowledge who we owe our lives to; actually, what we owe our lives to. Eons ago, when the Earth was cooling down from a state of blazing conflagration and the million-years-long rain had poured away its last drops into the oceans, an insignificant algae, a glaucophyte, swallowed a cyanobacteria and unknowingly evolved into the first solar power plant, a Cyanophora paradoxa, the descendants of which, dot our planet’s landscape today.

 

Oblivious to the fact that the survival of our race was as a result of that tiny creature’s brave hunt, today the offspring of that plant have clumped into forests covering about 30% of the land mass of Earth. The trees collectively are in many ways the base of our ecosystem, being the immediate supply of oxygen for our breathing, providing wood for building and maintaining the environment’s temperature and greenhouse gases’ concentration. They are the habitats of 80% of all animal species living on land allowing a nourishing growth of a wide range of animals. Trees support the soil and prevent soil erosion which would have led to less crop yield and upstream debris. Not only that but they are the only source of food for some species that are less able to hunt due to natural limitations.

 

All in all, trees are the pillars of biological life but with the advent of industry and a less conservative school of thought, deforestation, the cutting down of trees, is on the rise and doesn’t seem to be stopping any sooner. Deforestation is the cause of many economic and social reasons. A constant increase in population demands more wood cut down for heaps of paper and common domestic needs. The population rise, increments the industrial processes required to meet the demand of society. For hosting these process, larger areas of land are required which are taken away from forests. Some countries lack adequate amounts of fossil fuels and thus for small-scale purposes, like cooking, make use of firewood. Along with others, such countries have an agro-based economy, leading to overgrazing which contributes to the lessening population of trees. The day-to-day urbanization of rural areas has also led to large tracts of afforested lands to be cut down in place for brick buildings and polluting industrial factories.

 

Illegal and imprecise cutting of trees has also contributed to the deterioration of their numbers.


But undoubtedly the agricultural need for land contributes most to deforestation. A rise in population demands more mouths to feed which in turn demands more land to grow that food. This problem is worsened with less crop yield and soil infertility. By 2050, the current land required for crops will be multiplied far many times to feed a projected population of 9.8 billion people. As a result of this cutting down of trees, 4000 to 6000 rainforest species have become extinct out of which 700 alone were of Pakistan. At the current rate, Earth is predicted to be devoid of vegetation in 100 years.

 

The ghastly effects of deforestation include soil erosion, dislocation of some of the 2 billion people relying on trees as their source of food and shelter, the extinction of plant and animal species and a nudge towards climate change. 24% of greenhouse gases come from cutting down of forests as the trees release their stored carbon dioxide when felled. To overcome this quandary, a simple principle of afforestation must be implemented. Every tree cut, must be replaced with a sapling from the nursery. Campaigns calling for a check on such actions and personal intuition can greatly help in altering the notions of people. Transitioning towards paper alternatives can slowly bring about the optimal 20% to 30% forest area to countries. Integrating nanotechnology and similar agricultural innovations can increase the crop yield and hence lower the area required for feeding the growing population. Saving the trees, is saving Earth, for without those stout shadowy plantae, the Earth is a treeless canopy. We must do whatever we can to honour the legacy of the Cyanophora paradoxa.

 

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