Arbor Day is a day dedicated to public tree-planting in the US, Australia, and other countries. Arbor Day, usually observed in late April or early May, is one of my favorite holidays because of the importance and symbolism behind it.
Every year thousands of forests are cut down, processed, and used for buildings, playgrounds, and more. Others are cut down for the sole purpose of using the land for something else when there are PLENTY of empty lots available for purchase. In the Amazon rainforest — which is home to many exotic and endangered creatures — thousands of square kilometers have been cleared. In 2013 alone, 5,843 sq. kilometers were destroyed; thankfully, that number has gone down from 2006, when 14,286 kilometers of forest were cut down in that year alone!
Although deforestation rates have made their way back down, they are not completely where they should be. We as humans cannot survive without trees. About 30% of the Earth is covered by forests, and compared to the whopping 7 billion people on this planet, that percentage is very low. With the declining percentage of forests and the rising number of people, we are bound to end up suffering greatly in the long run.
Some people may ask, “How does deforestation affect me? Why is keeping the environment clean such an important thing?” Although this is a simple question, the answer is quite long, so let’s start by taking a deeper look into the effects of deforestation.
A huge problem with clearing many large wooded areas at a time is reduced biodiversity. When forest cover is removed, species lose natural habitats and are more susceptible to being killed or hunted. Sometimes, when even a seemingly unimportant animal is killed off, a chain reaction of devastating events can occur. Disrupted water cycles is another problem with deforestation that will more prominently affect humans. When entire forests are leveled, the trees can no longer evaporate groundwater, which leads to a drier local climate. When there are barely any trees in an area, the entire evaporation and water cycle is disrupted. These are only a few of the hundreds of reasons why we need to cut down deforestation rates.
Let’s take a look now into the importance of keeping our environment clean. The definition of environment is the “surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, or plant lives or operates,” so why wouldn’t you want the place where you live to be clean? Litter is a huge problem. As I drive down the highway and even down smaller country roads, I see enormous amounts of trash just thrown about. Not only is that unappealing to look at, but it’s terrible for the environment. Let’s say a cigarette carton, for example, is thrown out of a window. When it rains, all those toxic chemicals are being sent to sources of water and absorbed into the ground.
Keeping the environment healthy and cutting down deforestation rates should be a very big priority. We are here to make the Earth a better place, not to destroy it. The ozone layer is slowly being destroyed by our pollution. Numerous animal species have gone extinct because of our negligence. Entire ecosystems are being destroyed because of us.
We are to blame, and if we don’t reverse this path of devastation, we will surely pay the price.
For more information, visit the Arbor Day Foundation.