Regrettably, deforestation and desertification go hand in hand. The principal method for deforestation in tropical rainforests is “slash and burn”. This consists of cutting trees down and setting them on fire so as to release their nutrients. In this way, the soil is enriched and farmers are able to grow crops. This process causes two main problems. First of all, the cleared land stands no chance to recover because it is not allowed to lie fallow for the necessary amount of time. As a consequence, the soil becomes severely depleted and in time, it might become a desert. A second problem is that after soil depletion, farmers move on to a new patch thus repeating the cycle of destruction. Statistics reveal alarming facts: an area of tropical forest equivalent to the size of Austria is logged annually. Furthermore, only the 20% of the world´s forests remain and tropical rainforests cover only 7% of the Earth´s land at present.
Deforestation also has a harmful effect on precipitation. By removing the canopy of foliage there is less evaporation and less precipitation as well. This means that the cycle of rain and evaporation is disrupted. Under this condition, more energy from the sun is in contact with the Earth´s surface. Consequently, the top soil is damaged by both sunlight and rainfall. Eventually, this can result in desertification and a rising in atmospheric temperatures.
Additionally, deforestation is, to a large extent, responsible for global warming. The cutting and burning of trees result in a large amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere. The rising of 1.6 billion metric tons per year of carbon dioxide will be responsible for 15% of the increase in global temperatures between 1990 and 2025.
Finally, deforestation is seriously affecting the biodiversity of the Earth. It is estimated that there are 80 million kinds of animals and plants on Earth, but only 1.5 million have been studied and named so far. Tropical forests are home to over half of these plants and animals. Owing to deforestation, a considerable number of different species – 100 per day- vanishes before even being discovered, studied and made the most of.