Deforestation: a word that is used with more and more regularity; but what does it mean?

The removal of wooded areas is known as deforestation. WE are not talking about just chopping down the odd tree here and there, though. Deforestation is the clearance of huge areas of woodland, forest and jungle, which can have a major impact on the local habitat, the species that it houses and on climate change.

In the UK, we are not used to seeing wooded areas that cover the same size land areas as we see in Europe, Asia and the Americas, but our lives here have a direct impact on forests around the world.

Farming is a major source of income in some areas of South America, and huge areas of the rain forests are cleared each year for both crop growth and animal grazing. These areas become unsustainable after a few years as the nutrients taken from the soil and not replaced, leaving the farmer in need of better land, so more is cleared.

The rainforests support a wealth of unique species that are not to be found in other parts of the world, so the destruction of their habitats leads to risk of extinctions occurring. The removal of the trees also leads to the stability of the soil in the area being compromised, meaning that the likelihood of flooding and landslips increases. Of course, the role of the rainforest in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and producing oxygen should also not be underestimated.

As recently as last weekend, the BBC produced a video showing how a chicken burger bought in the UK can be linked to deforestation in Brazil.
Next time you have a chicken burger, just stop and think. Ask yourself – has this has an impact on the rainforests?

Until next time, Keep Calm and apply some Science!

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