Deforestation and Its Causes

Deforestation and its Causes

A great variety of plants and animals exist on earth. They are essential for the well-being and survival of mankind.


It means clearing or cutting of trees or forests over a large area.

Forests are cut so that land can be used for different purposes like building houses, making roads etc.

Deforestation is the process of clearing forests in order to use the land for timber, industrial, agricultural and other purposes.

Causes of Deforestation

Natural causes
→ Forest fire
→ Severe droughts
→ Man-made causes
→ Using land for agricultural purposes
→ Rapid urbanization
→ Procurement of wood for fuel and furniture

Major Reasons for Deforestation are:

What are the Causes of Deforestation?




Trees are cut for   :

Agriculture: Trees are cut to Provide Land for Agriculture and Cultivation.

Housing: Trees are cut to Provide Land for Houses and Factories.

Furniture and Paper: Trees are cut to obtain wood. Wood from trees is used to make Furniture.

Fuel: Wood from trees is burnt and used as fuel for cooking etc.

Natural Causes

Deforestation also happens due to natural causes like forest fires, drought etc.

Consequences of Deforestation

Consequences of Deforestation

→ An increase in the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere leads to global warming.

→ Lowering of groundwater levels.

→ Increase in pollution level and temperature.

→ Decrease in the fertility of soil and amount of rainfall.

→ Increase in frequency of droughts and floods.

→ Desertification- conversion of fertile lands into deserts.

  • This can lead to an increase in temperature and pollution levels on the earth.
  • It increases the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the Groundwater level also gets lowered.
  • If the cutting of trees continues, rainfall and the fertility of the soil will decrease.
  • It will lead to increased chances of natural calamities such as floods and droughts.
  • it can lead to global warming
  • The increase in temperature on the earth disturbs the water cycle and may reduce rainfall. This could cause droughts.
  • It leads to a change in soil properties.
  • Fewer trees result in more soil erosion.
  • Desertification: deforestation leads to soil erosion by removal of the top layer of the soil and by exposing the lower, hard and rocky layers. This soil becomes less fertile. Gradually the fertile land gets converted into deserts.
  • Deforestation also leads to a decrease in the water holding capacity of the soil.
  • The other properties of the soil like nutrient content, texture etc., also change because of deforestation.

Increase in Temperature and Global Warming

We know that Plants and trees consume carbon dioxide and give out oxygen during photosynthesis. If there are no trees, it will lead to more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere This Carbon Dioxide traps heat rays from the sun. This will lead to an increase in the temperature of the earth and can cause global warming.

Increase in Pollution

We know that carbon dioxide is generated by industries and vehicles. Plants and trees consume this carbon dioxide and help in reducing pollution. If we cut trees, it will increase carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Increase in Droughts

Removal of trees also disturbs the water cycle and causes droughts (less rainfall). The roots of trees suck water from the earth’s surface. This water goes to the leaves. Due to the sun, this water gets evaporated and goes to clouds. This later falls down as rain. If there are fewer trees, less water will go upbringing less rain.


The roots of trees bind the soil together. Due to fewer trees, there will be more soil erosion (fertile soil is eroded by wind and water). Hence fertile lands will soon turn into deserts.

Animal and Plant Life is Affected

Animals and Birds are dependent on plants and trees for their food. The Natural Habitat (living area) of wild animals and plants is disturbed. In the case of deforestation, there will be fewer forests, so these plants and animals will become extinct (die because of a shortage of food).

Shortage of Food and Forest Produce

Trees and plants in the forest provide us variety of food to eat. Example- Fruits, honey etc. Also, wood obtained from trees is used to make furniture and paper etc. Many medicines are also prepared from plants and trees. So cutting trees will lead to a shortage of forest products.

Flooding of Rivers

During heavy rain, the roots of trees help the soil absorb water. However, in case of a shortage of trees, the soil will not be able to absorb water. This water will flow into rivers causing floods leading to loss of life and property.

Conservation of Forest and Wildlife

Conservation of Forest and Wildlife

Biosphere: It is that part of the earth in which living organisms exist or which supports life.

Biological diversity: It refers to the diversity of organisms existing on the earth, their interrelationships and their relationship with the environment. biodiversity is the variety of plants, animals and microorganisms generally found in an area

Wildlife Sanctuary: It is the area where animals are protected from any disturbance to them and their habitat.

National Park: The areas reserved for wildlife where they can freely use the habitats and natural resources.

What is wildlife conservation?

Wildlife Conservation is the practice of protecting endangered plant-animal species and their habitats in an effort to maintain the ecological balance.

How does the government conserve our forests and wildlife?

The government lays down rules, regulations, and policies to protect our forests and wildlife. Besides, it also earmarks rich flora and fauna habitats as protected areas where the following activities are prohibited:

  • Cutting down trees
  • Grazing cattle
  • Hunting
  • Plantation and cultivation
  • Poaching (illegally killing or capturing wild animals)

Biosphere Reserve

Biosphere Reserve

Biosphere Reserve is an area that aims to conserve the biodiversity of the area as well as its culture. It may contain other protected areas within it. For Example, Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve has a national park called the Satpura National Park and two wildlife sanctuaries called the Bori Wildlife Sanctuary and the Pachmarhi Wildlife Sanctuary.

Biosphere Reserves in India

There are 18 biosphere reserves in India, which are:

Flora and Fauna

Flora and Fauna

Flora: Plants found in a particular area are referred to as the flora of the area. Example: Sal, Teak, Mango, Arjun, Jamun are the flora of Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve

Fauna: Animals found in a particular area are called fauna. Example: Blue bull, barking deer, Chinkara, Cheetal, Leopard are fauna of Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve

Flora in the Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve includes:

      Sal                                                     Arjun
      Teak                                        Silver Fern
Mango                                                   Jamun

Fauna: Animals found in a particular area are referred to as the fauna of the area. For Example, fauna in the Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve includes:

e-bull                                                                 Wolf
Leopard                                                 Barking Deer
Cheetal                                                              Chinkara

Endemic Species

Endemic Species

Species: A group of living organisms that can interbreed with each other is called a Species. It means that only members of one species can reproduce offspring that are fertile and can give birth to future generations. Members of a species look like each other and share many characteristics.

Endangered Species: Species whose number diminishes so much that they might face extinction (or vanish off the face of the Earth) are known as Endangered Species. There can be endangered animals as endangered plants.

Endemic Species: Species of plants and animals that are exclusively found in a particular area are called Endemic to that zone, state, or country. The endemic species are not found anywhere else naturally. For Example Endemic flora of the Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve includes sal and wild mango.

Sal                                               Wild Mango

The endemic fauna of the Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve includes bison, Indian giant squirrel and flying squirrel.

                   bison                                                   giant squirrel
Flying Squirrel


Wildlife Sanctuary

Wildlife Sanctuary

Wildlife Sanctuaries are reserved forests where wild animals are protected and provided with suitable living conditions. Unlike a zoo, animals in wildlife sanctuaries live in their natural habitat and are free to roam anywhere they like.

People living in Wildlife Sanctuaries can:

  • Graze livestock, and
  • Collect firewood or medicinal plants.

Activities prohibited in wildlife sanctuaries include:

  • Killing (poaching) animals
  • Capturing animals

These activities in wildlife sanctuaries are punishable by law.

Wildlife Sanctuaries in India

Indian wildlife sanctuaries have unique landscapes which include broad-level forests, mountain forests, and bushlands in deltas of big rivers. They protect several threatened wildlife species such as golden cat, pink-headed duck, blackbuck, white-eyed buck, gharial, marsh crocodile, elephant, rhinoceros, python etc. Unfortunately, people encroach upon the land of these protected forest areas and destroy them.

There are 543 wildlife sanctuaries in India, which include as many as 50 tiger reserves that focus on the conservation of the tiger. The tiger reserves work under Project TigerJim Corbett was the first tiger reserve of India. It is situated in Uttarakhand and is also the oldest national park in India.

Project Tiger is a government initiative to protect tigers. Its objective was to ensure the survival and maintenance of the population of tigers in India. Similarly, some of these wildlife sanctuaries are called bird sanctuaries as they focus on protecting birds. Keoladeo National Park, for example, was a bird sanctuary before it attained the National Park status.

National Park

National Parks in India

A National Park is a relatively large area of scenic beauty protected and maintained by the Government to preserve flora and fauna, landscape, historic objects of the area and places of scientific interest. National park provide human recreation and enjoyment.

National Park is an area of countryside, or occasionally sea or freshwater, protected by the state for the enjoyment of the general public or the preservation of wildlife.

Some national parks focus on conserving a particular species. For Example, the Jawai leopard sanctuary is in Rajasthan.

There are a total of 55 rock shelters in Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve which also feature rock paintings depicting figures of men fighting with animals, hunting scenes, dancing, and playing musical instruments. Many tribal are still living in the area.

There are 104 national parks in India. The top 10 of these national parks include:

  • Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand
  • Kaziranga National Park, Assam
  • Gir Forest National Park, Gujarat
  • Sundarban National Park, West Bengal
  • Satpura National Park, Madhya Pradesh
  • Eravikulam National Park, Kerala
  • Pench National Park, Madhya Pradesh
  • Sariska National Park, Rajasthan
  • Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh
  • Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan

Why do animals become extinct?

Disturbances in the natural habitat of animals make it difficult for them to survive and hence become extinct. For Example, dinosaurs became extinct thousands of years ago.

Why do we need to conserve Animals?

Animals, such as lizards, snakes, owls, and bats, play a particular role in an ecosystem and help in maintaining its balance. They form part of food chains and food webs. We need to conserve different life forms to make sure that the natural balance does not get disturbed.

What do we mean by an Ecosystem?

An ecosystem refers to the living organisms and non-living components of a place, including plants, animals, microorganisms, climate, soil, river deltas etc.

Red Data Book

Red Data Book

Red Data Book: This book is the sourcebook that keeps a record of all the endangered animals and plants. Red Data Book is maintained internationally by an organization.

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) maintains a record of all the endangered animals and plants in the world and calls it Red Data Book. India also maintains its own Red Data Book which keeps a record of endangered plants and animals found in India.

The Golden Toad now makes the Extinct as well
as the Extinct in the Wild lists of the IUCN Red List.

There is a Red Data List too, which is also known as IUCN Red List of Threatened Species or IUCN Red List which classified all known plant and animal species into nine groups:

  • Extinct: No known individual of the species is alive.
  • Extinct in the Wild: No known individual of the species in the wilderness. They exist only in captivity.
  • Critically Endangered: Species that are at extremely high risk of being extinct in the wilderness.
  • Endangered: Species that are at high risk of being extinct in the wilderness.
  • Vulnerable: Species that are at high risk of being endangered in the wilderness.
  • Near Threatened: Species that are likely to become endangered in the near future.
  • Least Concern: Species that are found in abundance and are not at risk.
  • Data Deficient: Species about which we do not have enough data to assess its extinction risk.
  • Not Evaluated: Species which has not yet been evaluated on the criteria adopted by the IUCN.

Species that fall in the Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable categories are also referred to as Threatened Species.



Migration is the movement of birds, animals, or humans over long distances to live in a new location permanently or temporarily.

Migratory birds are birds that fly to faraway areas every year to avoid harsh and inhospitable weather conditions in their natural habitat. They cover long distances to reach another land and lay their eggs.

Recycling of Paper

Recycling of Paper

How can we help in the Conservation of Forests?

We can help by:

  • Recycling and Reusing Paper
  • Reforestation

Recycling and Reusing Paper

  • 17 Full-grown trees are cut to make 1 tonne of paper
  • Paper can be recycled 5 to 7 times for use
  • We should save paper so that fewer trees are cut
  • We should also save energy and water used for manufacturing paper
  • Harmful chemicals should be reduced in the papermaking process
  • We should save paper, reuse paper and recycle paper



Restocking of the destroyed forest is called Reforestation. In easy language, it means planting more trees to replace the old ones which have been cut or died Reforestation can also happen naturally if we keep deforested areas undisturbed.

Benefits of Reforestation

  1. It will prevent global warming
  2. It will reduce pollution
  3. It will prevent droughts and floods and maintain the water cycle
  4. Forest Products like wood will be available to us in sufficient quantity

Reforestation is the opposite of deforestation. Here, we plant new trees to restock forests that have been destroyed. In India, we have the Forest (Conservation) Act which aims to preserve and conserve natural forests and meet the basic needs of the people living in or near them.

Reforestation can happen naturally or can be done artificially. If a deforested area is left undisturbed for some time, the forests grow again. However, we cut more trees than the ones that grow on their own and hence, we should plant trees to promote reforestation. Ideally, we should plant as many trees as had been cut down and the new trees should be of the same species as the earlier ones.

Padma Shri Jadav 'Molai' Payeng, the Forest Man of India is an environmental activist and forestry worker. He is from Jorhat, India, and single-handedly planted and nurtured a forest encompassing an area of 1,360 hectares across several decades along the sandbar of the River Brahmaputra. He was awarded Padma Shri - the fourth highest civilian award in India - in 2015 for the feat. The forest he planted is called 'Molai forest' after him.

Important Terms

  • Wildlife Conservation is the practice of protecting endangered plant-animal species and their habitats to maintain the ecological balance.
  • Deforestation is the process of clearing forests in order to use the land for timber, industrial, agricultural, and other purposes.
  • Biosphere Reserve: Biosphere reserves are the areas meant for the conservation of biodiversity. The biosphere reserves help to maintain the biodiversity and culture of that area.
  • Flora and fauna: The plants and animals found in a particular area are termed flora and fauna respectively of that area.
  • Species: it is a group of populations that are capable of interbreeding to reproduce fertile offspring.
  • Endemic species: Species of plants and animals which are found exclusively in a particular area and are not naturally found anywhere else. E.g., sal and wild mango
  • Wildlife Sanctuaries: Sanctuaries like reserve forests provide protection and suitable living conditions to wild animals. Killing, poaching, or capturing animals, in general, is strictly prohibited and punishable by law in all such places.
  • National Park: these are large and diverse areas enough to protect whole sets of ecosystems. They preserve flora, fauna, landscape, and historic objects of an area.
  • Project Tiger: It was launched by the government to protect the tigers in the country. The objective was to ensure the survival and maintenance of the tiger population in the country.
  • Endangered species: the species whose numbers are diminishing to a level that they might face extinction are known as endangered animals.
  • Ecosystem: An ecosystem is made of all the plants, animals, and microorganisms in an area along with non-living components such as soil, river etc.
  • Red Data Book: This book is the sourcebook that keeps a record of all the endangered animals and plants. Red Data Book is maintained internationally by an organization.
  • Migratory birds: Birds who cover long distances to reach another land are known as migratory birds. These birds fly for laying eggs as the weather in their natural habitat becomes unsuitable
  • Paper recycling: Generally, paper can be recycled in the five to seventies for use. One can save, reuse used paper and recycle it. It also helps us to save energy and water needed for manufacturing paper.
  • Reforestation: It is the restocking of the destroyed forests by planting new trees. Generally, the same species which were found in that forest are replanted. Plant at least the same number of trees we cut. Reforestation can take place naturally if the deforested area is left undisturbed, it reestablishes itself.
  • The Forest Conservation Act: The act aims at the preservation and conservation of natural forests and meeting the basic needs of the people living in or near the forests.

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