Deforestation has been contributing to the extinction of many types of plant life for the past few decades. Now, mounting evidence suggests that the repercussions of the deforestation trend reach far beyond the eradication of plant species. Everything from potential loss of prescription drugs to frightening weather anomalies are beginning to alert scientists and citizens to a greater problem.
How big is the problem?
New studies have estimated that over one in five plant species now faces extinction. Scientists have projected these numbers could rise dramatically if action is not taken immediately to slow or stop the problem. With millions of dollars being dedicated to research and sustainability efforts around the world, more people are taking notice of the importance of plant life and its direct and indirect impacts on our planet.
What plants are endangered?
Organizations such as the USDA and The IUCN keep detailed listings of endangered plants and animals, and often classify these findings on a sliding scale in terms of the probability of extinction. With thousands of species on this list, it is imperative that local residents and governments take action to ensure that the annual and perennial plants in their area are well cared for and preserved for future generations. The extinction of endangered plants also influences the livelihood of the animal wildlife that depends on the vegetation for food.
Consequences of extinction on daily life
The consequences of tree-loss and plant extinction are staggering. Besides the catastrophic effects on natural ecosystems struggling to exist in destroyed forests, rainforests, or woodlands, the continued loss of plants species has the potential to cause major climate changes that will be detrimental to the entire Earth. Also of concern, is the future of the pharmaceutical industry, which relies on plant life to manufacture over 25% of drugs currently prescribed. Global productivity is also at stake as droughts caused by deforestation adversely affect many industries that play a larger role in world commerce.
Endangered plants and the rain forest
The rain forests of the world are home to millions of species of plant and animal life, and the plant life living there is the main source of the oxygen released into our atmosphere that is necessary to maintain balanced life on Earth for all living creatures. Cutting off this crucial oxygen supply is theorized to be a major contributor for global weather changes, climate shifts, and the greenhouse effect.
Tell me about deforestation
Deforestation is the process of clearing vast areas of woodlands or rainforests to harvest lumber, or to create farms or pastures for grazing, amongst other things. Problematically, the current practices used are very detrimental to the areas being deforested and the earth’s weather patterns and ecosystems on a global level. While it was once thought that the harmful effects were localized, scientists are now beginning to discover that rampant deforestation is having severe global consequences.
Who is trying to help?
Thankfully, there are many organizations out there trying to help solve the problem through scientific studies, hands-on rescue missions, educational resources, and political protests. Even donating one dollar to the Plant a Billion Trees foundation can do something to help repair a deforested area, and will raise oxygen levels in the atmosphere.