Environmental Effects of Deforestation

Chapter 1 discussed in detail the most important environmental values of forests: preservation of biodiversity, regulation of climate, and carbon sinks. We place emphasis on the numbers of species in tropical forests and how deforestation is causing species extinctions. The effects on climate were also discussed at both the regional and global levels; for the regional level, we discussed the influence of large extensions of tropical forest on the hydrologic regime, and effects of deforestation on rainfall. For the global level, we discussed one of the most important roles of forests, the absorption of carbon from the atmosphere, thereby reducing the atmospheric buildup of carbon dioxide.

Other environmental effects of deforestation refer to changes at the landscape level, including transformation of the landscape from forest into scrubland, with resulting soil loss, siltation of rivers, and effects on wildlife. Forest cutting due to mining of resources leads to environmental degradation due to forest destruction and to contamination of waters and air as a result of the mining activities. The development of iron mines in Carajas, Brazil (Box 4.2) is a case in point.

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