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Deforestation is a global environmental issue that has reached critical levels. When trees are permanently removed to make room for agriculture, grazing, logging, housing, road works, or commercial use, forest areas shrink. This creates a whole gamut of problems that have devastating effects on the environment, wildlife, and economy.
Efforts have been made to stop deforestation or at least slow it down. Various sectors around the world are doing their share in saving the forests. Tree planting projects, deforestation awareness, campaigns, forest stewardship programs, promoting sustainable choices, and recycling are just some of the programs that are helping stop deforestation on its tracks.
As more studies and research are conducted, potential solutions emerge and one of them is bamboo planting. But before we delve into how bamboo can help in forest restoration, we must first understand how forests are being depleted.
What are the causes of deforestation and forest degradation?
Deforestation and severe forest degradation are happening all over the world. In fact, the world has lost about one-third of its forest, which is equivalent to an area twice the size of the US. What’s particularly shocking is that the devastation occurred mostly in the last century. This says so much about the ill-effects of modernization and progress to natural resources.
Here are the leading causes of deforestation and forest degradation.
Many forests are converted into plantations, pastures, human settlements, roads, and other infrastructure. Once conversions are done, we lose massive forest areas and the plant life and wildlife that depend on forest for food and shelter.
Because of the high demand for timber and derivative products like paper and packaging, some unscrupulous businesses are illegally extracting timber from forests. They are not only violating laws and destroying the forests, but they are also taking away the livelihood of people from the local communities who depend on the forest.
Legal or not, mining has a devastating impact on tropical forests. Demand for minerals is on the rise, which means large-scale mining operations are contributing to deforestation through forest clearing. And since these operations are often accompanied by constructions of roads, power stations, railway lines, and other infrastructure, they cause a huge disturbance to the forest ecosystem.
In many parts of the world, charcoal production is still thriving. The increasing demand for charcoal and wood for domestic cooking is a major threat to forests. As more people use charcoal, suppliers are overharvesting fuelwood, resulting in degradation of forest, eventually leading to deforestation.
Not all causes of deforestation is man-made. Natural forest fires can happen when lightning strikes. In rare cases, they can be caused by spontaneous combustion of leaves and sawdust. Man-made fires are the leading cause of forest fires. Smoking, cooking, and other human activities can start a forest fire.
Because of climate change, tropical storms, droughts, and heat waves are happening more frequently and increasing in severity. These result in loss of trees and destruction of forests. With fewer trees, more carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere.
How can bamboo slow down and prevent deforestation?
Reversing deforestation is a massive challenge for governments and environmentalists. With deforestation happening at breakneck speed, it becomes difficult to restore forests to their original glory. Planting trees, going paperless, and recycling are just some of the ways to slow down deforestation. However, there’s a little-known activity that can help prevent deforestation and that is bamboo planting.
Bamboo is associated with the green movement by being a great alternative to plastic and wood products. There’s plenty of reasons to love bamboo. Here are some of them:
Among all these benefits, the bamboo’s role in preventing deforestation is not widely discussed or explored. The potential to protect the forests is tangible and yet it remains unfulfilled. A deeper look into the attributes and benefits of bamboo reveals its role in protecting the forests and stopping deforestation.
With all these incredible abilities and attributes, bamboo should be part of global forest restoration and rehabilitation programs not just to slow down deforestation but also to reverse its devastating effects.