Deforestation is a serious concern for today’s society and a very controversial issue. Thus, estimates of deforestation rates differ from source to source, and some data indicates that up to 85% of the world’s forests have been destroyed for various reasons.
In addition, there are several opinions on the main culprits like timber harvesting, illegal logging, clearcutting, palm oil deforestation, and more. These disputes propagate different myths about deforestation.
7 most common deforestation myths: what’s the reality?
1. Clear cutting is synonymous with deforestation
The two terms are often confused, but they do not necessarily mean the same thing. In general, clearcutting is a forest regeneration practice since trees are felled to inspire the growth of offspring. Conversely, deforestation is the felling of trees without additional reforestation. In this regard, clear cutting is sustainable, while deforestation is not. In addition, clear cutting is beneficial for forest health since it promotes the growth of more vigorous trees.
The only exception when clearcutting can be considered deforestation is when trees are felled for agricultural, urban, industrial, road or power line construction, etc. In this case, forest land is converted to other purposes that do not suggest the use of trees. the comeback.
Clearcut monitoring with additional control of forest regeneration is a reliable technology to clarify the situation.
2. Logging leads to deforestation
The statement is only partially true and is specific to each country. Logging causes deforestation only when forests are not restored after logging. Indeed, logging and timber production are responsible for 70% of forest degradation in Asia and Latin America, but the situation is radically different in the United States and Canada.
Most governments force official logging companies to replant cut areas soon after harvest, helping to restore balance. Forests can also regrow naturally after logging, in the same way they do after forest fires, but natural regrowth is insufficient and therefore requires human assistance.
Logging is often mistakenly viewed as the main driver of deforestation. The main culprit is agriculture, which contributes to the impressive 80% share of deforestation. It has the most significant impact on:
- Latin America,
3. Beef is the only food linked to deforestation
It’s not. Indeed, forests are cut down to provide grazing areas. However, along with beef production, forest land is converted to agriculture also due to the cultivation of soybeans and oil palm. Soybeans are quite edible for humans and popular with vegans, but these legumes are mainly grown as fodder for livestock. This is why, technically, raising poultry and cattle can indirectly cause deforestation when forests are cut down to grow soybeans.
Palm oil is a product in demand with multiple applications including pharmaceuticals, food processing, cosmetology, personal hygiene, biofuel production and many more. On the food side, palm oil is found in versatile products such as:
- baby formula,
- ice cream,
- chips, and so on.
So, beef is certainly NOT the only food linked to deforestation.
4. Avoiding products containing palm oil will stop deforestation
Consuming palm oil is not necessarily bad, thanks to the zero deforestation commitments of many palm oil producers. This means that oil palm production does not always lead to deforestation. It depends on the legality and transparency of the supply chains of palm oil processors, regulated at government and non-government levels. To meet the requirements of the 2004 Sustainable Palm Oil Roundtable (RSPO), manufacturers must move to zero deforestation from palm oil.
In addition, the oil palm is the most oil-rich plant, supporting around 35% of the world’s vegetable oil needs. This means that it requires the smallest territory compared to other vegetable crops. Thus, it will lead to less deforestation than, for example, growing soybeans.
Thus, avoiding the use of palm oil will not solve the problem. The bottom line is consuming palm oil from legal supply chains.
5. Local illegal loggers are a major threat to forests
It is debatable, even though illegal logging is terrible. In African countries, small loggers do more good to local communities as they provide wood for the procession inside the country while large companies cut trees mainly for export. The good news is that small loggers contribute to employment, poverty alleviation and the production of goods, thus improving the standard of living of the local population.
6. Most trees are cut for lumber and paper
This is not true since agriculture remains by far the main driver of deforestation today as described above. As for the wood raw material for furniture and paper products, the corresponding companies have to adapt their facilities to the available supplies, relying heavily on recycling sources.
7. Using wood for energy will lead to deforestation
Even though wood is used for heating, it is not the main driver of deforestation. Logging for energy will not lead to deforestation if forests are replanted or allowed to regenerate naturally. The greatest evil of forests is their conversion for agricultural purposes because it gives the best yields compared to other uses.
There are many myths about the drivers of deforestation, and their misperception will not solve the problem. Although clearcutting, illegal logging and paper production are often considered to lead to deforestation, the main culprit is agriculture because of the higher returns on investment. Forest lands are disappearing due to the production of oil palms, soybeans and beef.
However, avoiding these products will not improve the situation. Instead, consuming responsibly and producing legally, ordinary people and manufacturers will mitigate forest losses. Remote sensing will help keep deforestation under control.
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