Developing countries, people density and shrinking forests

MANY developing countries are quite in touch with their forests, especially the sacred ones. Everything happens in the forests.

GUEST OPINION: PETER MAKWANYA

Talk about the spirit of the woods and also reference to Mother Nature.

Nature is a woman, as it bears life and women are also regarded as the guardians of nature.

Sometimes forests are termed as dwelling places of the ritual gods and those unforeseen powers that are assumed to control human life are said to reside in the forests.

From the Amazons to the tropical rainforests of Central Africa, the imposing hardwoods of the southern Africa to densely knitted thickets of South East Asia, lay some of the world’s largest trees and forest cover.

These are also home to the largest mammals and reptiles on earth.

Due to population density and the need for forest resources, the revered forests continue to shrink and decrease in size, thereby contributing to global warming.

Millions of hectares of the developing world’s rainforests and their hard wood counterparts are destroyed, burnt and mortgaged every year, due to a number of factors that include the creation of pastures for livestock, clearing for crop land and illicit harvesting as well as pure greed from the hidden hand of the multinationals.

As they do so, vast amounts of carbon dioxide are emitted in the process, from the fires, coordinated and unco-ordinated large scale clearing that has destroyed forest cover, otherwise known as carbon stocks or carbon sinks, essential for trapping large amounts of carbon underground for centuries.

When people talk about agents of global warming, they always cite human behavioural tendencies without spelling out the issue of increasing numbers of people in the world by day.

Population explosion has destroyed vegetation, burnt and exposed cultivated soils that release more than their usual amounts of greenhouse gases in the process.

These land clearings and burnings may have emitted far much carbon into the atmosphere than the burning of fossil fuels.

The decimated forests and loss of forest cover have affected the global climate in considerable proportions.

Besides the natural factors contributing to warming the planet, land clearings due to a desire for farmland, has contributed to local-scale drying due to loss of moisture-trapping forest canopies.

It is not only the rain forests that are endangered from human destruction and global warming as mountains, hardwoods and other forest types have suffered the same fate as well.

But we continue to talk about fossil fuel burning as the major driver to global warming without talking about birth controls to avoid population density.

Overpopulation has contributed to the large mass of human inhabitants competing for space and scarce forest resources thereby eating into available forests.

The planet will end up with a carrying capacity that is not sustainable as the number of human beings continue to multiply.

A series of major droughts across continents have also contributed to large scale forest fires as well as destructive pests that eat into the available trees.

Continuous forms of droughts keep on weakening the ability of trees to fight off aggressive pests and bugs that destroy the trees from within.

Even forest regeneration efforts across the continental divides may take decades to introduce forest cover or regrowth.

As a result of forest shrinking, communities are engaged in overt water, grazing, land and forest resource wars as the planet can no longer satisfy the nature of demands.

But the natural agents of destruction like insects fires will continue to have their presence felt in the natural ecosystems.

Forest fires, whether from natural causes or massive land clearing, come as major sources of pollution, and they add significant amounts of carbon dioxide into the air, not mentioning carbon monoxide, methane and ozone producing oxides of nitrogen.

In practical terms, the loss of trees means less carbon being soaked up from the atmosphere to support any form of growth.

As the world gather for climate change conferences trying to come with solutions of reducing global warming, they continue pay lip service to population density that the world is currently experiencing at an accelerating rate.

Peter Makwanya is a Climate change communicator. He writes in his capacity and can be contacted on: petrovmoyt@gmail.com

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