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Deforestation is the permanent destruction of indigenous forests and woodlands. The term does not include the removal of industrial forests such as plantations of gums or pines. Deforestation has resulted in the reduction of indigenous forests to four-fifths of their pre-agricultural area. Indigenous forests now cover 21% of the earth's land surface.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PROTECT THE RAINFOREST?
* Use wood sparingly. An energy-efficient stove, The Number One Wood Stove is available from: Mr C. le Clezio, P O Box 55333, Northlands, 2116. Tel. 011-7866709.

* To learn how to make a low-cost, energy-efficient stove contact: Dr A Marsh, Small Industries Project, P.O. Box 143, Windhoek, Namibia. Tel.061-64527.

* The "Wonder Box" is a cheap, simple way to save fuel, whether wood or electricity. For a demonstration or to order: Women for Peace, PO Box 87233, Houghton, 2041. Tel.011-6464501

* Plant indigenous trees.

NOTE:
For Japan's insatiable timber market, Malaysian hardwoods rumble from the island of Borneo. Under fire for rain forest destruction, some loggers have had to halt operations.







CONSEQUENCES OF DEFORESTATION

* Alteration of local and global climates through disruption of:

a) The carbon cycle. Forests act as a major carbon store because carbon dioxide (CO2) is taken up from the atmosphere and used to produce the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins that make up the tree. When forests are cleared, and the trees are either burnt or rot, this carbon is released as CO2. This leads to an increase in the atmospheric CO2 concentration. CO2 is the major contributor to the greenhouse effect. It is estimated that deforestation contributes one-third of all CO2 releases caused by people.

b) The water cycle. Trees draw ground water up through their roots and release it into the atmosphere (transpiration). In Amazonia over half of all the water circulating through the region's ecosystem remains within the plants. With removal of part of the forest, the region cannot hold as much water. The effect of this could be a drier climate.

* Soil erosion With the loss of a protective cover of vegetation more soil is lost.

* Silting of water courses, lakes and dams This occurs as a result of soil erosion.

* Extinction of species which depend on the forest for survival. Forests contain more than half of all species on our planet - as the habitat of these species is destroyed, so the number of species declines (see Enviro Facts "Biodiversity").

* Desertification: The causes of desertification are complex, but deforestation is one of the contributing factors (see Enviro Facts "Desertification")


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