Our planet is precious to us, but not everyone has that same view. Deforestation has become such a problem in the world’s greenest areas that they have become almost unrecognisable. We all want to reverse the effects of climate change, but with scenes like these, we have to wonder if it’s ever possible.
What came first? Farm or forest?
This image shows the difference between a deforested space in the rainforest and what it should look like naturally. Farmers need more space to keep up with the demand for things like coffee, bananas and palm oils. The higher the demand for these products, the more the farmers want to expand into the rainforest to earn a living.
Open spaces like these are forcing animals that live in the rainforest to be penned in, stopping them from roaming freely around what was once their home. We understand that farmers have a living to earn, but what came first, the farmer or the rainforest?
Before and after
Here is a look at how green the Amazon rainforest used to be several decades ago, versus what it looks like now. There were patches of deforestation before, but now it is harder to see the rainforest for the farms and cleared spaces of land.
Considering how important scientists have deemed the survival of the rainforest for the general air quality of the planet, it’s a worry how much is gone. In fact, the rainforest looks more like an overview of any city in the world rather than one of the most diverse ecological systems on the planet.
For the sake of some gold
People have been trying to find precious metals from our planet for hundreds of years, and that means mining down into the ground to find it. This site of illegal mining in Peru has led to further devastated areas in the Amazon rainforest.
These pools of stagnant water are caused by the giant holes that were dug to find the precious metal for humans to have nice shiny things.
Getting smaller and smaller
Many overhead shots of the rainforest show large chunks cut out of it where the trees have been chopped down for farmland. They used to just be chunks taken out of the jungle, but now it’s looking more like farmland with a few spots of forest here and there. The wildlife that once lived in these cleared spaces will have either had to move into that square of jungle, find another place to live or else perish.
Deforestation forces animals to move their territories, often making them encroach on other animal’s territories, forcing them into conflict. What can be even worse for the animals is forcing them to come into contact with humans.
Desperately seeking shelter
The jungle meant life for the animals that lived under a canopy of trees, but now there is very little in the way of trees to give animals protection from the elements. Even these farm animals have trouble finding shelter as they huddle around the one solitary tree in their field.
With fewer places to call home, the once biodiverse landscape of the rainforest is dwindling. The sooner we can save green spaces, the better it will be for everyone.
This dirt road helps draw a clear line between the rainforest and a patch of land that has been flattened. We can see just how densely packed the trees are on the left-hand side of the photograph, and on the right, just how few trees remain. It’s not uncommon for loggers to turn to fire to clear as many trees as possible in the shortest time.
The trees that remain in the cleared space don’t look all that healthy because the likelihood is that this field was burned clear. That can be dangerous because fire is wild, and sometimes it burns more of the rainforest than intended.
The wildlife that lives in our forests and jungles are the ones most directly affected by deforestation. These green spaces are their homes, and they are being forced out by people trying to make money. The smaller the jungle becomes, the more likely that wild animals are going to come into contact with people.
Less dangerous animals like this sloth are not a threat to humans, but there are more dangerous animals living in our rainforests. Leopards and tigers thrive in dense jungle, and now have to be rehomed because their territories back onto people’s farms and homes.
The search for palm oil
One of the biggest causes of deforestation is the palm oil industry. It rips down the homes of animals, often orangutan, for this oil that is found in so many of our products.
If you buy food from the supermarket, take a look at the ingredients, it’s likely you will find palm oil in it. This industry is forcing animals from their homes at alarming rates, and it is threatening their chances of survival.
It seems that this tree has some sort of guardian angel looking down over it. While everything around it has been flattened, this tree has been fortunate enough to remain standing. Of course, now that it is standing there alone, it looks very isolated.
With more trees coming down every day, the only surprise here is that this tree has been allowed to stand when its neighbouring plants have been torn down. The Amazon jungle has been called the ‘lungs of the planet’ by scientists, and soon we might find we are struggling to catch our breath with more scenes like these.
Burning it down
Years ago, the only smoke that appeared in the treetops of our rainforests came in the form of mist. Nowadays, that’s much less common, and the most likely reason to see smoke in the canopy is due to forest fires.
The clearing method is being used for fast deforestation, and we imagine any wildlife living in these trees is struggling to breathe. If you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to breathe in smoke from a fire, then you’ll appreciate how difficult these conditions are for the wildlife force into this situation.
Garbage dump in river
Deforestation is just one of the ways in which we have failed to look after our environment. Plastics are now pretty much a plague on the environment, as we can see here in an Indonesian river.
For generations, humans didn’t stop to consider the damage they were doing to the environment, but with plastic dumps like these, it’s hard to ignore. Now that we can all see the whole world with the flick of a finger on our smartphones, it is opening people’s eyes to the devastation we have created.
This photograph occurred thanks to a protest by the environmental organisation Greenpeace. It happened in 2005, as they felt they couldn’t just allow the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest to go unpunished.
Much of the deforestation around the world is considered illegal, yet it is still allowed to happen time and time again. What makes things worse is the fact that this illegal activity damages local economies, yet is supported by trade to some of the most developed countries in the world.
Indonesia’s disappearing rainforest
It’s not just the Amazon jungle that is being torn down for the sake of farmland and money-making. This is in Indonesia, and you can see in the background what the scene should look like.
We shouldn’t be able to see much further and a few feet due to the thick coverage of trees, yet we are staring at an empty space. Without the exterior wildlife to sustain it, it’s only a matter of time before that body of water becomes contaminated and uninhabitable.
In search of logs
This is what the people cutting down the trees in the rainforest are looking for. They have huge bundles of trees collected, read to sell to the highest bidder.
Not only is there plenty of money to be made for the loggers selling the wood, but the farmers who move into the clear space can make a better living. Scenes like this are not uncommon all over the rainforest, as the trees are collected before being moved on.
Deforestation has been a problem on our planet for decades, but only now are we seeing the harsh reality of it. With our air quality suffering, and the survival of animals less likely, something has to be done about deforestation before it’s too late.