What does deforestation have to do with bamboo? Bambooi® has the solution against deforestation.
Cutting down trees is not good for the environment and nature. It disrupts biodiversity and causes habitat loss of animal and plant species. Climate change is both a cause and a consequence of deforestation. In addition, deforestation also has a major impact on the local population.
Bamboo offers a possible solution to combat deforestation. In fact, bamboo grows quickly without having to be replanted. Moreover, bamboo stores more CO2 than normal trees. The following article discusses what deforestation is, the causes and consequences of deforestation and finally how bamboo can serve as a solution to combat deforestation.
What is deforestation?
Deforestation is the deliberate cutting down of trees. For centuries, forests have been cleared to make room for agriculture and cattle ranching, for example. In addition, forests are cleared to extract wood for fuel, manufacturing and construction.
Deforestation has greatly altered landscapes around the world. About 2,000 years ago, 80 percent of Western Europe was forest. Now it is about 34 percent. In North America, between 1600 and 1870, about half of the forests in the eastern part of the continent were cleared for timber and agriculture. China has lost large portions of its forests over the past 4,000 years and is now just over 20 percent forest.
Today, the greatest deforestation takes place in the tropical rainforest. This is due to the construction of roads in areas that were previously virtually inaccessible. Building or improving roads also makes the forests more accessible for exploitation. One way to exploit the forest is the slash-and-burn farming method. As can be seen from the name of the method, the wood is first chopped and then burned. Then the remaining ash serves as manure for crops. The disadvantage of this method, however, is that the piece of land is only fertile for a few years, after which the farmers leave and repeat the process elsewhere. This renders large tracts of land infertile, making this method of agriculture a major contributor to deforestation in the tropics. Trees in tropical forests are also being cut down to make way for cattle ranching and oil palm and rubber tree plantations.
The causes of deforestation
Cutting down trees (illegally) is not good for the environment. Although several causes of deforestation can be identified, forest degradation is mainly due to human activities. The five main the causes of deforestation are briefly discussed below.
Industrial agriculture means the agricultural model characteristic of recent decades. Industrial agriculture consists of large farms producing the same crop every year. This form of agriculture goes hand in hand with intensive use of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. Industrial agriculture accounts for about 85 percent of deforestation worldwide.
While this can mostly be attributed to meat production, soy and palm oil plantations follow closely behind as causes of deforestation. According to a European Commission impact study, the EU mainly imports products such as palm oil (34%), soy (32.8%), timber (8.6%), cocoa (7.5%) and coffee (7%) from deforested areas. Palm oil is a major contributor to deforestation in countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia, for example.
About 380,000 hectares of forest are cleared each year to meet global demand for timber and wood products, accounting for about 60 percent of deforestation. Another 25% of forests are cut down for firewood and charcoal. These degraded forests are much more vulnerable to conversion to other land uses such as mining, agriculture and habitation.
Thanks to an ever-increasing demand for minerals, mining in tropical forests is increasing. And because large-scale mining is an intensive, industrial undertaking, it requires development of large-scale infrastructure. This only further degrades the areas.
Expansion and infrastructure
As population growth engulfs the country, large tracts of forest are cut down to make way for the expansion of cities and settlements. And with the growth of these cities and settlements comes even more infrastructure.
Finally, climate change is both a major cause and consequence of deforestation. Extreme events caused by climate change such as floods, fires and droughts are affecting forests. But deforestation in turn is harmful to the climate, as they play an important role in providing clean air, regulating the water cycle, capturing CO2 and preventing biodiversity loss and soil erosion.
The effects of deforestation
As mentioned above, climate change caused by tree loss is a major consequence of deforestation. The main impacts of deforestation are discussed in more detail below.
The loss of habitat
One of the most disturbing consequences of deforestation is the loss of habitat for animal and plant species. About 70 percent of animal and plant species live in forests. The trees of the rainforest offer protection. Also, the canopy of fallen leaves from the trees provides the right temperature. Deforestation leads to a drastic temperature difference between day and night, and that is not favorable for many animal and plant species, to say the least.
The panda is the symbol for endangered animals, and its habitat has been greatly reduced by deforestation. Wildlife Fund of Dierenpark Amersfoort has therefore planted over 8,000 saplings in Nepal in 2021 together with local people, in order to save the panda’s natural habitat.
There are about two thousand to three thousand pandas left in China. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), this number causes the panda to be classified between endangered and vulnerable species. The panda has thus not yet reached the final stage before extinction, the classification critically endangered. Nevertheless, it is necessary to protect this species and its habitat to ensure that the number of pandas does not decline. Bamboi toilet paper uses only bamboo from Sichuan and is fortunately totally uninteresting to pandas. You can read more about bamboo on our website.
Increased greenhouse gases
In addition to the loss of habitat, the lack of trees also causes a greater amount of greenhouse gases to be released into the atmosphere. Trees normally extract carbon dioxide from the air for photosynthesis. Trees also contain carbon, but this is locked up in the wood. When the trees are burned, the carbon returns to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. With fewer trees around to absorb the carbon dioxide, this greenhouse gas accumulates in the atmosphere and accelerates global warming. For example, deforestation causes more carbon dioxide to be released into the atmosphere.
Soil erosion and flooding
The impact of deforestation is also immediate. The loss of trees from a forest makes the soil more susceptible to soil erosion. This makes the remaining plants more vulnerable to fire as the forest changes from a closed, moist environment to an open dry environment.
Indirectly, the consequence of deforestation is also noticeable. They are often complex processes involving several factors. Consider, for example, privatization, access to land, corruption, low status and positions of power. These processes take place all over the world and often occur gradually over a period of many years through the centuries.
Water in the atmosphere
Trees also help maintain water levels in the atmosphere by regulating the water cycle. One of the most important forests for regulating the Earth’s water cycle is the Amazon rainforest. The Amazon’s millions of trees work together to release moisture into the air, creating air currents that regulate Earth’s weather patterns. In deforested areas, there is less water in the air to return to the soil. This then causes drier soil and the inability to grow crops. The following will elaborate on the important role the Amazon plays in regulating the Earth’s climate.
As briefly mentioned above, the Amazon is one of the most important forests for regulating the water cycle on the planet. This area is a rainforest in South America that spans nine different countries. At 7.7 million square kilometers, the Amazon Rainforest is the largest rainforest on Earth. The area is also called the “lungs of the earth,” because it produces 40 percent of the earth’s oxygen – while occupying only six percent of the earth’s surface.
Unfortunately, the Amazon is also threatened by massive deforestation. Indeed, it is in the Amazon that most trees are cut down. According to a recent January 2022 report by the World Wildlife Fund, more than a quarter of the Amazon forest will be stripped of its trees by 2030 if logging continues at the same rate. It is estimated that even 40 percent of the Amazon will be destroyed by 2050. That’s an area the size of the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Germany, France, Portugal, Austria, Switzerland and Italy combined.
In addition, local communities also rely heavily on the Amazon. When companies clear forests, these communities lose resources to grow the food they need to survive, leaving them in food insecurity. Hundreds of millions of people depend on tropical forests for food, and the highest concentrations of food insecure populations live in regions with tropical forests.
Deforestation of the Amazon is a major problem and, as cited earlier in this article, there are several reasons for cutting down trees. Cutting down trees for palm oil, soy, livestock and agriculture, as well as timber and thus paper, play a major role in deforestation. This is one of the main reasons Bamboi chooses bamboo toilet paper. Bamboo grows quickly, grows without having to be replanted and stores more CO2 than normal trees. Besides, fortunately, our bamboo species is not of interest to the panda. Products made from bamboo can therefore serve as a solution to combat deforestation.
Forests protect us from climate change. For example, in late 2021, the Glasgow Climate Summit declared a commitment to end deforestation by 2030. But because deforestation is a complex and large problem, there is also no single solution to it. To eliminate tree cutting from the world, there will have to be no more support to validate deforestation. This means that there should be no profitable reason for rainforest clearing, and it is often big players such as corporations and governments that control it.
Yet you yourself can contribute a little by adjusting your own behavior patterns, for example by not buying certain products or using sustainable substitute products instead. For example, ecologically sound paper where cutting down trees is not necessary. To ensure that paper or other wood products are sustainable and sourced from managed forests, you can look out for the FSC certificate. This certification shows that the wood or paper products are sustainable and come 100% from responsible forests. All our rolls are 100% FSC® certified with license number FSC®-C016391.
Paper made from bamboo is a good example. Unlike trees, bamboo plants take only three years to mature, and can be “mowed” in the first year. Bamboo is “cut” because it is a grass and the plant grows back from its own roots after being harvested. So no deforestation and by using bamboo you also protect the remaining forests on earth. In addition, a bamboo plant needs less water than trees and bamboo does not require pesticides to grow. This makes it an attractive alternative for those looking for sustainable paper products. Also read how to prune bamboo.
In short, deforestation is a major problem and harmful to the environment. There are several causes of deforestation, but most are related to human influences. In addition, climate change is both a cause and a consequence of deforestation. It is difficult to name a solution to deforestation given the size and complexity of the phenomenon, and it is mainly the big players such as corporations and governments that will have to adapt.
Still, everyone can do their part to stop deforestation, for example, by buying sustainable products that prevent logging. One example is our Bamboi bamboo toilet paper. Do you also want to help fight deforestation? Then order the bamboo toilet paper from Bamboi in our webshop!