Land clearing is an activity of chopping down trees, stumps, and other obstacles from an area as required to increase the size of the crop producing land base of an existing farm, to obtain logs or for urbanization. Australia native forests cover about 164 millions hectares which is about 21% of the continent (WWF 2007). Therefore, 50-100 plant and animal species are disappearing. Australia has the fifth rate of land clearing and clears more bush each year than poverty-stricken countries. It can be said that the number one threat to the survival of plants and animals in Australia is the large scale clearing of mature bushland.
A forest is an area with a high density of trees. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defines forest as a land with trees cover the area of more than 0.5 hectare. 5 metres is the minimum height the trees should be able to reach at maturity in situ (FAO 2006). Forests are further subdivided into cultivated area and natural forests. Natural forests are forests composed mainly of original trees and not deliberately planted. The forest floor is frequently covered with decaying leaves, twigs, and other detritus where recycling occurs. Herbaceous plants such as grasses and ferns blanket the herb layer and get less. Shrub layer is categorized as woody vegetation that grows rather close to the ground. Small immature trees and trees that are shorter than the main canopy level of the tree predominant the understory of forest which give shelter for numerous animals. Canopy is where the most of the forest’s trees meet and form a thick layer and lastly emergents layers are trees that crowns emerge above the canopy (Klappenbach 2007).
Reasons the lands are cleared
Some native vegetation communities in the Southwest Australia region has been cleared, basically for food production upwards of 90%. Most landowners are economically stressed to put more land more intensively. In Tasmania, over 100000 hectares of native forest across public and land have been converted to plantation during the last 10 years (WWF 2007). Another constant pressure on Australiaâ€™s forests is livestock grazing and also fires. The international timber trade is currently the major reason of global forest destruction that contains the highest levels of biodiversity (WWF 1997). Areas of high biodiversity is likely to contain the oldest, thus in many case the largest and most commercially valuable, trees. The global timber trade tend to get appealed to forest with high biodiversity and exploit it. The conversion of non-forest lands from forest areas for settlement and agriculture is lead by rapid population and housing area developments together with urbanization. More people need more timber to construct houses, malls and business centres. This takes a great loss of forest lands for harvesting forest products. Besides, road constructions through the forest make the rainforest accessible for transportation and movement of timber produced from the forest. Moreover, large hydroelectric projects have led to widespread forest loss. This is due to large areas of the forest are flooded to construct dams.
Effects of land clearing
One of the bad impacts of land clearing is the greenhouse effect. The burning and degeneration of cleared vegetation, and the subsequent oil emissions causcausedhe greenhouse effect. from the entire transport sector – every cleared vegetation, e Australiaâ€™s total carbon dioxide emissions produced to be and the subsequent oil emissions. over 13%. This equals to emissions from the entire transport sector in Australia. Over 5 million honeyeaters, parrots, robins and other land birds are killed every year as a result of land clearing. Nearly half mammal species, including wallabies, wombats and bandicoots, are either threatened with extinction or extinct because of land clearing. Australia has lost more mammals and plants to extinction than any other country and has more endangered animals than 98% of the world’s countries (Bush Heritage Australia 2002). A report (The University of Queensland 2007) showed that 150 years of land clearing added significantly to the drying and warming of eastern Australia. Mean summer rainfall declined by between 4% and 12% in eastern Australia, and by 4% and 8% in southwest Western Australia. Runoff rapidly flows into rivers when forest cover is lost, thus rising river levels and subjecting downstream areas to flooding. During the dry season, such areas can likely to have long droughts that last for months which disturb river navigation, wreak destruction on crops, and disrupt industrial operations.
It would be ideal to replant the cleared lands quickly so as to avoid soil erosion and soil saliently instead of clearing large areas of land all at one time and leaving the soil open to the elements, to help maintain natural habitats. Sustainable Commercial Logging Options is an effort to control logging to ensure it is done in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way by authorising logging at a minimal rate. Government also has to stricken laws so that cutting trees in forest becomes a major crime. Besides its flow may be reversed, it will also lead to deforestation being controlled in a major way. All cities have to be managed properly, have enough green cover and new trees have to be planted where ever possible. Other solution is by establishing Good Wood. Good Wood is timber harvested from ‘well managed’ forests or plantations or reused, recycled or salvaged wood. It allows consumers to continue using wood products without causing forest destruction (Greenpeace Good Wood Guide 2009). Moreover, the development of a comprehensive, adequate and representative (CAR) system of reserves for Australia’s forests has been advocated by Australia’s National Forest Policy Statement. The aims of the national CAR reserve system are to safeguard old-growth, biodiversity, wilderness and other natural and cultural values of the forests (Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2003).
Land clearing can lead to the destruction of natural habitat and extinction and various climate problems. The developers have to balance out between suburbanization and environments. Everyone plays an important role on this planet to save the environment from being destroyed.
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