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Green challenges

Thinking global and acting local, Julie Grundy takes on any challenge we throw at her.

How deforestation affects us

Two people planting a tree

Credit: National Tree Day, Planet Ark

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Deforestation is when most or all of the trees are removed from an area, and the land changes from a forest or bushland into a farm, a plantation, a suburb or some other use. Of course, we need somewhere to live and grow our food, but there’s no need to cut trees down for paper when we can recycle it or use trees from existing plantations instead.

In Australia, most deforestation happens in Tasmania and New South Wales, but the logging companies are ready to chop down anything they can in any location. At the moment we rank 5th in the world for deforestation!

Not only does the removal of our rainforests and bushland destroy the places our native wildlife live in, it also creates salinity and problems in the soil, and even reduces rainfall (which relies on particulate matter from trees to create droplets).

And as you can probably guess, it’s not great for climate change either. Trees soak up carbon dioxide, but they can’t do that if we cut them all down. In 1998, deforestation was responsible for 12 per cent of our increase in carbon dioxide emissions.

By reducing the amount of paper we use, we’re helping to reduce the demand for logging and the pressure on forests both here and overseas. There are other ways you can help too:

  • write to your state MP to show your support for bans on clear-cutting, and lobby to get proper revegetation practices made compulsory. Your local environmental group can help you with this.
  • avoid products made using palm oil, since it’s causing rainforest destruction in Indonesia and therefore removing the last remaining places for orangutans to live.
  • volunteer for National Tree Day to help conservation groups fix up land that’s been stripped but can now be revegetated. I’ve done it and it’s lots of fun.

Have you seen the effects of deforestation in your area? Tell us about it in the comments.