A Comparative Analysis Of Deforestation, Environment, And Sustainable Development

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According to available estimates, forests cover more than one quarter of the world’s total area. About sixty percent of these forests are situated in tropical countries. However, these forests are disappearing at a very fast pace. Between 1980 and 1995, an area larger than Mexico had been deforested.

This accelerated destruction of forests poses a serious threat to the environmental and economic well-being of the earth. Several studies have demonstrated that natural forests are the single most important repository of terrestrial biological diversity–of ecosystems, species, and genetic resources

. Forests also act as major carbon sinks, absorbing massive quantities of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Deforestation, according to these studies, is directly linked to adverse climate change, soil erosion, desertification, and water cycling. Until recently deforestation was deemed to be a local/national problem.

However, increased awareness and scientific data have pointed out that the problem transcends national boundaries. Deforestation affects the entire earth’s environment and economic development.

This collection of essays analyzes the forces responsible for deforestation, the governmental policies that effect this destruction and the roles multilateral aid agencies, NGOs, play in the environmental debate.

The collection critically examines the principles and criteria suggested by forest-experts for a sustained economic growth vis- -vis forest stewardship in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. An invaluable resource for scholars, students, researchers, and policymakers involved with environmental and public policy issues.

Each chapter, written by different authors, reviews the condition of the forests around the globe. Individual chapters look at India, Bangladesh, China, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, Thailand, Latin America, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo and Israel. The book was compiled in 2001 using both historical data and recent studies to

document the changes in global forest health, its impact on the environment, and to assess the potential for sustainable development.

The book begins with a litany of facts regarding the status, location and conditions of forests, as well as their ecological and economic significance. Many of these facts are familiar but having them all in one place at one time really brings a new sense of awareness and concern to the situation.

A few facts I found particularly painful to read were the loss of half the world’s tropical forests between 1950 and 1999, the annual deforestation rate of 0.9 percent, and the loss of 50,000 invertebrate species every year (140/day) due solely to the chopping down of tropical forests.

These facts don’t point to a rosy future. The continuing loss of forests at the current rate would exhaust all of the world’s tree cover in less than a century. While this would be ominous at any time, it is particularly alarming at present given the concern about climate change and global warming, and the role the world’s forests play as a vital CO2 sink and to help cool the planet.Environment

The second chapter deals with the role the World Bank has had on deforestation, particularly throughout the developing world. The World Bank, founded in 1946, takes money from member states and funds projects in the developing world on the premise of promoting economic development and relieving poverty. Their favorite projects over the past half century have been primarily in the energy, transportation and agricultural sectors, all of which have a direct and indirect impacts on increasing local deforestation where the projects are built.Environment

In almost every country studied the situation is more similar than different. Local differences arise from the ecology, the history, local practices, government policies and the like, however it is the overriding similarity that most resonated with me. In each country, there is a population that makes a living and uses the forests in a reasonably low-impact and nearly sustainable basis.Environment

These folks are the losers as governments, in an interest to grow economically, see the forests as an economic resource to generate revenue and political power. So the government is more than willing to follow the World Bank and other developers as they propose dams, roads and agriculture to raise money and supposed living standards.

These projects ultimately have a negative impact on forests in direct and obvious ways, but they also bring people and economic activity deeper and deeper into the forests causing yet further long-term destruction. In the end, the forests are gone and the environmental and economic problems remain.Environment

I’d highly recommend this book if you have any interest in the global forest conditions and really want to understand the causes and possible solutions.Environment.

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