The Effects of Deforestation on Animals
Plants and animals are integral to forest ecosystems and provide countless ecosystem services to humans. If forests ceased to exist humans would be unable to survive.
As important as forests are both environmentally and economically, many of our global forests are severely affected by deforestation. Deforestation is one of the leading causes of climate change and species extinction.
Deforestation has real consequences for animals. The most serious impacts of deforestation on animals are listed below.
🦍 Habitat loss
Habitat fragments may be too small to maintain viable populations of animals, and an animal living in one population may no longer be able to freely breed with individuals in other populations. Animals may not be able to find adequate shelter, water, and food to survive within remaining habitat.
This means that in places where there is any deforestation happening, these species cannot thrive and will gradually disappear.
🦁 Changing climate
Trees play a vital role in controlling climate.
Because forests store a large amount of the world’s carbon dioxide, deforestation contributes 15 percent of global greenhouse emissions. When forest trees are burnt, the carbon that they were storing gets released into the atmosphere.
🐒 Higher risk of wildfires and droughts
Deforestation may reduce the remaining forest area’s resilience to threats such as wildfires. Local hydrological cycles can be dramatically altered, since trees and other vegetation in forests help to retain atmospheric moisture through evaporation and evapotranspiration processes.
With no tree canopy present after deforestation, such changes in the water cycle can lead to much drier and warmer conditions, leading to even further impacts on wildlife habitats.
All animals, in one way or another, get energy from plants. Plants make energy from the sun and herbivores eat plants. Carnivores eat herbivores, which gained their energy from plants. If no plants are present, there is no food in the ecosystem and animals starve.
🐺 Increased interaction with us
Deforestation usually means that we are claiming areas which we haven’t previously inhabited. This means that there will be more interaction between wildlife that lives there and us.
Generally, wildlife interaction with us is negative and can have disastrous consequences for the animals. One of the best examples of our problematic co-existence with large carnivores are wolves. Wolves, once the most widely distributed mammals in the world, were for centuries regarded as our worst enemy for hunting our livestock. The conflict got so far that wolves were extensively hunted down and became a rare sight in many areas of the world.