THE HISTORY OF HUMANITY DEVELOPMENT IS THE HISTORY OF THE GRADUAL DEFORTESTATION OF THE PLANET.
According to the International World Resources Institute and the World Conservation Monitoring Center, over the past 8,000 years, half of the existing forests have been destroyed.
The data is approximate, of course. Modeling is carried out on the basis of soil analysis, the content of plant pollen, and similar indirect methods.
But the data is such that the destruction is connected with people. It has an anthropogenic character. And a sharp decrease in forest area began about 500 years ago.
And 75% of the area of forests destroyed by people falls on the 20th century. That is, people destroyed in a century what grew and formed for 8 millennia.
At what, attention!
Of the still remaining forests, only 22% consist of natural ecosystems! The rest are heavily modified by people, and are planting forests, parks and the like.
HALF THE MILLION-YEAR-OLD FOREST IS LOST.
AND ONLY ABOUT ONE FIFTH OF THE LEAVING FORESTS ARE NATURAL (“ANCIENT”) FORESTS.
THIS IS THE QUANTITATIVE SUMMARY OF HUMAN IMPACT ON THE PLANET TODAY.
Moreover, the reasons for deforestation are very interesting!
Since ancient times, mankind has cut down forests, freeing the land for agriculture and simply for the extraction of firewood. Much later, there was a need to create a large infrastructure of cities and roads. Massive mining began.
The fantasticness of the situation is that NOW most of the forests are simply BURNED OUT.
Slash-and-burn farming, which is used for short-term use of ash-rich soil, is NOW in the 21st century being practiced by 200 million people around the world.
According to British conservationist Norman Myers:
- 5% of deforestation in the tropics is due to grazing;
- 19% is due to logging;
- 22% is for the expansion of oil palm plantations in industrial agriculture;
- and 54% is simply burned out due to slash-and-burn agriculture on small farms.
A generalized scientific analysis of data from 46 countries in the tropical and subtropical zones (78% of the forest area of these zones) showed that deforestation is due to:
- large-scale commercial agriculture – 40%;
- local subsistence agriculture – 33%;
- urban growth – 10%;
- infrastructure expansion – 10%;
- mining – 7%.
For the people of our country, this is not clear. We don’t have a rapidly growing population. But in a huge number of countries, forests are still stupidly burned out for vegetable gardens!
In general, it is difficult to determine the REAL rate of deforestation.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which maintains these data, relies on official country data. But even according to the estimates of this organization, the total losses in the world for the first 5 years of the 21st century amounted to 6 million hectares of forest annually.
The degree of error of official statistics can be represented by the following: according to the World Bank estimates, 80% of logging in Peru and Bolivia is illegal, in Colombia – 42%. It is the same in our country: official statistics are far from something that I would unconditionally trust!
Now the main part (75%) of the remaining forests in the world is located in only 3 countries. These are Russia, Canada and Brazil.
If you look at the problem closer to us, then the deforestation of Europe by the collective efforts of Mankind has been successfully completed. Forests in decent volumes remained only in the north – in the countries of Scandinavia and in Russia.
And two thousand years ago, forests covered 80% of the area of modern Europe.
Today it is 34%, including the forests of Russia.
In Western Europe, deforestation peaked in the Middle Ages. Mostly the forest was cut down for the needs of agriculture. By 1700, there were already about 100 million hectares of arable land in Europe. During the 20th century, the area of arable land increased by another 80 million hectares. The rapid growth of the area of urban agglomerations and the transport network was added. And in some places the forests have disappeared almost completely.
Let me turn once again to the theory of the biotic pump of atmospheric moisture by the Russian scientists Viktor Gorshkov and Anastasia Makaryeva about how great the role of the Ancient Forests is in the regulation of planetary processes. Europe has not become a desert just because it is small and surrounded by seas on all sides.
I quote: “… The modern record rate of deforestation originated in Western Europe, all areas of which are removed from the coastline of the ocean and inland seas at distances less than 600 km – the attenuation length of geophysical moisture flows from the ocean to land. Therefore, the complete destruction of natural forests in Western Europe did not lead to complete desertification, however, catastrophic floods, droughts and fires became more frequent” (Gorshkov, Makarieva, 2006).
Not so “lucky” Australia and the Sahara Desert in Africa as a result of human activity. Most likely, the deserts of Australia and the Sahara were formed as a result of the destruction of forests on the coasts.
As you can see, we still have something to save.
There are tasks that need to be solved in order to preserve the Ancient Forests. And this is hardly feasible without a broad social movement for Life, for the Living Planet, for the preservation of our Russian Taiga.
What is urgently needed now:
- Recognition at the state level of the uniqueness of natural (intact) forests, which have special properties: the complexity of the organization of the biological system, high diversity of species and resistance over time to changes in the external environment;
- Assessment of the existing forest fund from the point of view of the integrity and complexity of ecological systems – it is necessary to identify not only natural forests, but also those where logging has been carried out for a long time, and a natural restoration of the biosystem has taken place;
- Unconditional exclusion of natural and fully restored forests from economic activity.
There are many problems along the way!
This is the lack of reliable and up-to-date information about the age structure of modern forests. No scientific research in this direction is simply not being carried out.
This is also the lack of accurate quantitative data on the functions of forests at different stages of their development, at different ages. The theory of the biotic pump gives only general ideas about the nature of the processes. Few studies fully confirm the theory, but they are clearly insufficient for the implementation of practical measures.
And, most importantly, the complete absence of any legislative framework for the protection of natural ancient forests.
The situation is such that for the administrators of the Ancient Forest there is no concept at all!
The general situation in the world now is such that no one is fully engaged in the conservation and restoration of forests. There are actually implemented programs only in India and China, and these are less than 10% of forests. There is an even younger interstate program of the Green Belt of Africa.
The concept of the biotic pump remains little known. There are only separate studies by Scandinavian scientists and an analyst on the Amazon jungle.
At the same time, huge funds in the world are invested in geoengineering projects on climate change. China is actively working in this direction. Arab sheiks cause rains in their own. But all this is a scaling of the technocratic approach. With sharp unpredictable effects as a result.
So, the problem is common to the whole world. Not only for our country. There is knowledge and understanding, even at the initial stage, of biospheric processes and the impact of forests on climate. But the social system is inert. The industrial technocratic approach dominates. The approach is extremely simplified and mechanistic. Completely disregarding the complexity and diversity of the Living World around us.
© PAVEL PASHKOV
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