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Abby Hazzard

Cape Henlopen HS, 9th grade

The Global and Local Impacts of Deforestation

As of the summer of 2023, my family’s life was entirely changed. Instead of the luscious, beautiful green forest we once had behind our house, we now had dying trees lying on the ground with the land destroyed in preparation for a new neighborhood. This process is known as deforestation or efficiently cutting down a large body of trees with machinery. These inhumane actions truncated my family’s winter-time tradition of walking through the snow-covered trees, worsened the health of my cat and dog, and left many species homeless. As my family and I watched the forest being deforested and the effects that followed, I realized how much society takes our trees for granted and how without them, the health of Earth’s ecosystems suffers. The connection I felt to the forest because of my family’s experiences, such as our winter-time nature walk, inspires me to help others become more appreciative of Earth’s trees and acknowledge how our actions can greatly impact them. 

The loss of the forest caused damage to my beloved pets and home. My pets suffered from severe allergies from the remnants of the trees that blew into our yard. After the forest had been demolished, I started to notice that my dog’s already difficult allergies worsened and she had large, painful bumps on her feet that sometimes prevented her from walking. My cat started having clear liquid come out of his eyes that caused him to constantly squint. Their reactions were to the changes in our environment. Not only were the animals in my house affected, but the many species native to the forest lost their homes and had to find new places to live. Some of these pests such as spider mites and fungi moved to our backyard and began infecting our landscaping. When they began living in our landscaping, our plants quickly died. As my pets’ and plants’ health worsened, I began to realize how much the forest had kept our small ecosystem healthy. Without the trees, species were left homeless without a stable food supply, and killed my family’s landscape because of this. If the trees had not been deforested, my pet’s health would not have worsened and the habitants of the forest would have been able to continue living their stable lives. 

Deforestation greatly impacts animals globally and has caused thousands of species to become extinct. A study done in the summer of 2023 found that “the world is losing 137 species of plants, animals, and insects every day to deforestation. A horrifying 50,000 species become extinct each year” (Earth and Animals 4). At this alarming rate, Earth has lost millions of species that contribute to our environment and keep it stable. Even some of our favorite animals such as orangutans, jaguars, lions, tigers, leopards, Pygmy elephants, koalas, rhinoceros, and monarch butterflies are rapidly becoming extinct due to losing their habitats or food sources. Without species such as these, ecosystems are collapsing and leaving several species with no stable food source or shelter. 

These oppressive actions are also impacting human health. Studies done by National Geographic have found that deadly diseases and worsening climate change could greatly impact all humans and animals in the upcoming years. Researchers have found that due to deforestation, “There is also the imminent danger of disease. An estimated 60 percent of emerging infectious diseases come from animals, and a major cause of viruses’ jump from wildlife to humans is habitat loss, often through deforestation” (Nunez 3). They also found that “with wild habitats destroyed and human life ever-expanding, the line between animal and human areas blurs, opening the door to zoonotic diseases. In 2014, for example, the Ebola virus killed over 11,000 people in West Africa after fruit bats transmitted the disease to a toddler who was playing near trees where bats were roosting” (Nunez 11). If these infectious diseases continue to spread at this trend and harm thousands of people, a changing climate may become a smaller concern. To better protect our planet, we must be more mindful of the deadly effects cutting down trees has on humans and even animals. If humanity doesn’t focus on the effects, humans could face several more severe health issues sooner than the dangers currently imposed. 

Deforestation not only affects the health of animals, ecosystems, and humans, but it also causes Earth’s temperatures to rise and climate change to worsen. Carbon dioxide is the most common greenhouse gas and is found everywhere in Earth’s four spheres, the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere. This gas is essential for plant’s and animal’s lives. Trees store large amounts of carbon dioxide and when they are cut down, they release the gas into the atmosphere. These increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere weaken Earth’s ozone layer and allow the Sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays to reach Earth. This further causes Earth’s temperatures to steadily rise and climate change to worsen. These problems can lead to losses of weakened immune systems, loss of sight, several cancers for humans, and loss of habitats for animals. If humans do not more heavily focus on reversing the effects of deforestation, these consequences will become more and more common in the future and leave ecosystems unstable. 

After witnessing the horrendous destruction of land and trees, I felt a deep incentive to protect and rebuild our local forests. By having experienced the negative impacts of deforestation and how it affects our local ecosystems, I now have a better understanding of how to better protect and rebuild our forests. I believe that in my community, I can help reduce the amount of deforestation, deadly diseases, rates of extinction, and collapsing ecosystems and inspire others to do the same. In the news, I have seen stories about teenagers around my age who start organizations in their local communities and plant trees. In my community, I could start an organization that focused on helping rebuild our forests. To really make a difference, I would put up posters around nearby towns so more people would join. By doing this, I could inform others about the negative effects deforestation has on humans’ and animals’ health. This organization could also inspire future generations to have a deep desire to save and rebuild our quickly disappearing forests to help prevent the loss of another family’s or species’ beloved forest. 

Works Cited
Earth and Animals. “Deforestation: Clearing The Path For Wildlife Extinctions.” 

Earth and Animals, 6 Aug. 2023, wild-earth/params/post/1278141/deforestation-clearing-the-path-for-wildlife-e xtinctions#:~:text=According%20to%20recent%20estimates%2C%20the,speci es%20become%20extinct%20each%20year. Accessed 1 Mar. 2024. 

Nunez, Christina . “Why Deforestation Matters—And What We Can Do to Stop It.” National Geographic, 7 Dec. 2022, nt/article/deforestation. Accessed 1 Mar. 2024. 

Stand For Trees. “Death In The Forest: Deforestation Effects On Animals And What You Can Do.” Stand For Trees, Deforestation%20affects%20animals%20in%20manyfinally %2C%20many%20lose%20their%20lives. Accessed 1 Mar. 2024. 

Yousef, Tarik. “Species Going Extinct Due to Deforestation: 5 Endangered Animal Species As Forests Decline.” Tyrine Furniture, 27 May 2022, Species-going-extinct-due-to-deforestation-5-endangered-animal-species-as-forests- decline. Accessed 1 Mar. 2024. 


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