What are the causes of deforestation in South Asia

Global warming has affected the world in so many ways that recovering might take a while. The cutting down of trees and not replacing them is another key issue that is yet to be addressed. The longer the world delays to address the issue the more the inhabitants get affected. Gone are the days when the earth took care of itself as it had all that nature had created for the natural process.

What is Deforestation?

This is the permanent destruction of forests so as to utilize the land or in most countries the trees. Deforestation is the clearing of trees without the aim of creating future growth. Unlike harvesting, insect infestations and forest fires are not considered as deforestation as the affected places, that is the trees will eventually grow back. In simple terms, deforestation is the clearing of a particular area such as a forest or stands of trees to make way for projects such as agriculture or development. Another cause is the cutting of trees by local people so as to cater for their building materials or for firewood needs. Long term effects are then felt when they don’t replant new trees so as to replace the ones they use. 

Inclusive of the loss of forests such as scenic or recreational sites, deforestation has caused a number of damaging side effects. Loss of tree cover has led to soil erosion as well as degradation. Streams and rivers that are situated close to deforested sites are becoming warmer and hold even less oxygen, pushing out fish amongst other organisms. Waterways are also becoming dirty and silted due to soil erosion. Deforested land tends to lose its ability to absorb as well as store carbon dioxide, which is a crucial function of living trees, therefore subsidising climate change. 

South Asia deforestation

Southeast Asia is well known for its massive rainforests that constitute almost 20 percent of the forest’s cover and considered to be the richest biodiversity in the world. However, the region is also famous for its frightening rate of deforestation. The region is ranked at the top for its highest rate of deforestation followed by Latin America and Africa. It is predicted that the region may have already lost roughly more than 50 percent of its original forest cover. Some of the prime rainforests within the region will be lost by 2022 together with the loss of wildlife habitats.

Deforestation is a chief problem within the region with countries such as Indonesia leading the charts for forests clearing. Other hotspots are the likes of Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. Southeast Asia has always been a global biodiversity hotspot, however with over 600 million people living within the region, pressure has been building for biodiversity. Due to the ever increasing human population, the need has been rising for urban spaces. The governments in turn have taken steps to clear more land so as to fulfil this ever growing demand.

The forests located in Southeast Asia are well known to be a very rich source of timber perfect for a wide range of uses. The forest resources are then used as by-products in the form of lumber in turn into goods such as furniture, plywood, paper and pulp or in most cases as energy in the form of wood fuel. As such, the Southeast Asian countries are faced with a huge problem of their ever depleting natural forest resources that have to meet global demands for timber. 

Causes of Deforestation

–      Mining, the increase of mining activities on tropical forests is further damaging due to the rising demand and mineral prices. These projects often supplemented by large infrastructure construction that is roads, power systems and  railways

–  Paper, roughly 640 million trees characterise the paper that’s thrown away each year, as stated by the Environment Paper Network. Had we been recycling, we could have saved 27.5 million

–  Overpopulation, more land is required to create housing and settlements. As well as many more roads which are being constructed in order to billet a larger number of drivers.

–  Logging, this involves wood-based industries the likes of paper, matchsticks, and furniture that need a considerable amount of wood.

Long term effects

Tropical deforestation modifies the interactions between the surface that is the land and the atmosphere which then has an impact on the regional climate. Deforestation in South Asia that is in Southern India and Sri Lanka as well as Southeast Asia has led to warmer plus drier climatic conditions. Surface combined with ground temperatures and the sensible heat increase as a result of deforestation. The actual response of atmospheric moisture convergence is particular to the region being measured and can either enhance or modulate the changes in rainfall.

When a particular atmospheric moisture convergence is at its peak, the decrease in evapotranspiration dictates therefore producing less rainfall over the region. These changes can be seen throughout the year inclusive of the Asian monsoon season. Meaning that the climatic signal all thanks to deforestation is detached from the monsoon circulation. The variations in rainfall and evaporation have a long term negative feedback on each other therefore worsening the dry conditions.

In addition, the decrease in cloud cover partly counterbalances the decrease in the amount of shortwave radiation riveted by the surface due to the advanced surface albedo. The amplified surface albedo under deforested circumstances decreases the amount of vitality available at the surface which by itself should stabilize the covering atmosphere. However, this equilibrium largely is to be determined by the extent of the deforested area.


Something needs to be done so as to improve the current situation in South Asia. Projects such as replanting of trees as well as practising and promotion of environmentally friendly habits will help in the long run. As they say, charity begins at home. Asia already has a couple of developed countries that have economies that are strong enough to develop ways to promote sustainable living habits.

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