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Difference between Afforestation and Deforestation, Practice Problems and FAQs

The Amazon rain forest is considered as the lungs of the planet Earth. Do you know what is the reason for this? Yes, they draw the carbon dioxide and release oxygen. This oxygen is essential for the survival of all the other living organisms. What happens if something happens to our lungs? We can not breathe and it will affect our life, right? Now think about the situation if something happens to the lungs of our planet!!

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Fig: The Amazon forest known as the lungs of the Earth

The carbon dioxide will not be removed from the Earth and the oxygen will not be released. Carbon dioxide is a toxic greenhouse gas. So what happens if there is too much greenhouse gas in the atmosphere? Obviously it will lead to global warming, which will affect the existence of life on the Earth. With the destruction of forests we will be facing such huge problems. This destruction of forests is called deforestation.

We have to find a solution for this problem. The one solution is to plant more trees and make a new forest. If we are replacing the trees which got destroyed, then it is called reforestation. But what we could call the process of making a new forest from a barren land? It is called afforestation. So it is clear that afforestation is the making of forest and deforestation is the destruction of forest. Apart from this difference, there are many other differences between these two processes. Let’s discuss more about it in this article.

Table of contents

  • Afforestation
  • Deforestation
  • Difference between afforestation and deforestation
  • Practice Problems
  • FAQs

Afforestation

The process of establishing a forest or a group of trees in a cultivable wasteland where plants never existed before due to lack of seeds, trees or other factors is called afforestation.

Fig: Afforestation

To create forests and increase carbon capture, many governmental and non-governmental organisations are directly taking part in afforestation. To fight the climate concerns, afforestation is required. It also avoids desertification, through increasing the soil fertility. Hence afforestation aims at the improvement of conservational and commercial purposes.

Significance of afforestation

The major advantages of afforestation are as follows:

  • Wildlife gets protected through afforestation.
  • Soil erosion is minimised.
  • Fertility of the soil and agricultural productivity increases.
  • The climatic conditions are stabilised through reducing the impacts of greenhouse gases.
  • The process of global warming can be reduced.

Deforestation

The process which converts a forested area into a non forested area is called deforestation. The improper resource utilisation and less maintenance of forest area results in deforestation.

Fig: Deforestation

Presently deforestation is a huge problem globally. Almost 40 per cent of forests have been lost in the tropical regions. But the loss is 1 percent in the temperate regions.

Fig: Comparison of rate of deforestation in tropical and temperate regions

Causes of deforestation

A number of human activities contribute to deforestation. Major reasons for the deforestation are as follows:

  • To feed the growing human population, the forest is converted into agricultural lands.
  • The trees are axed for timber, firewood and for several other purposes.

Fig: Trees are axed for timber and firewood

  • For construction activities like construction of roads and buildings the trees are cut down.

Fig: Construction activities that lead to deforestation

  • Mining and quarrying operations have a serious negative impact on the growth of trees.
  • Deforestation is done to create cattle ranching.

Fig: Cattle ranching

  • Large areas of forest land are submerged for building dams and reservoirs.
  • Shifting cultivation (slash and burn agricultural practices) clears the forest to grow crops.

Fig: Shifting cultivation

Effects of deforestation

The major effects of deforestation are as follows:

  • Enhanced (increased) carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere, that causes global warming.

Fig: Concentration of CO2 before and after the deforestation

  • Deforestation also causes loss of biodiversity due to habitat destruction.
  • It disturbs the hydrologic cycle and causes soil erosion, as no plant means no roots to hold the soil.
  • Desertification occurs in extreme cases due to lack of moisture in the soil.

Fig: Effects of deforestation

  • Rainfall declines considerably due to less rate of transpiration by the trees.
  • It threatens the life of tribal people.
  • Cyclones can occur due to the denudation of mangrove forests.

Difference between afforestation and deforestation

The major differences between the afforestation and deforestation are as follows:

Afforestation

Deforestation

It is the process of growing new forest in a barren land

It is the process of converting a forested area into a barren land

The land area is covered with trees to increase the fertility

The fertile forest area is cleared to use the land for other purposes

It increases the biodiversity

It decreases the biodiversity

It increases the rainfall in the forested and the surrounding areas

It reduces the rainfall in the area of deforestation and surroundings

It reduces desertification

It leads to desertification

It protects the wildlife

It destroys the wildlife

It helps to reverse the global warming

It leads to global warming

Purification of air is done

Reduces the oxygen supply to the environment

It reduces air pollution

It increases the rate of air pollution

It reduces the soil erosion of the land area

It increases the soil erosion

It restores land and avoids flood by holding water

It may cause flash floods

It has a positive impact on the ecosystem

It has a negative impact on the ecosystem

Fig: Afforestation

Fig: Deforestation

Practice Problems

1. The means of growing forests in a place where plants never existed is called _______________.

  1. Afforestation
  2. Deforestation
  3. Reforestation
  4. All the above

Solution: The process of establishing a forest or a group of trees in a cultivable wasteland where plants never existed before due to lack of seeds, trees or other factors is called afforestation. The process which converts a forested area into a non forested area is called deforestation. Restoring the forest cover which already exists is called reforestation. Hence the correct option is a.

2. Which of the following is false about the significance of afforestation?

  1. Wildlife gets protected through afforestation
  2. Soil erosion is minimised
  3. Global warming is reduced
  4. Increase the desertification

Solution: To fight the climate concerns, afforestation is required. It also avoids desertification, through increasing the soil fertility. Hence afforestation aims at the improvement of conservational and commercial purposes. Wildlife gets protected through afforestation. Soil erosion is minimised through afforestation. The fertility of the soil increases and hence agricultural productivity also increases by afforestation. The climatic conditions are stabilised through reducing the impacts of greenhouse gases and the process of global warming can be reduced. Hence the correct option is d.

3. Which of the following causes deforestation?

  1. Construction of roads
  2. Mining and quarrying
  3. Shifting cultivation
  4. All the above

Solution: A number of human activities contribute to deforestation. To feed the growing human population, the forest is converted into agricultural lands, which can lead to deforestation. The trees are axed for timber, firewood and for several other purposes. To create the space for cattle raising and other construction activities (construction of roads and buildings) the trees are cut down. Mining and quarrying operations have a serious negative impact on the growth of trees. Large areas of forest land are submerged for building dams and reservoirs. Shifting cultivation (slash and burn agricultural practices) clears the forest to grow crops. Hence the correct option is d.

4. Choose the correct option which describes the effect of deforestation.

  1. Less carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere
  2. Disturbs the hydrologic cycle and causes soil erosion
  3. More rainfall in the affected areas
  4. Leads to desertification due to more amount of moisture in the soil

Solution: Enhanced (increased) carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere due to deforestation causes global warming. Loss of biodiversity due to habitat destruction results in deforestation. It disturbs the hydrologic cycle and causes soil erosion, as no plant means no roots to hold the soil. Desertification occurs in extreme cases due to lack of moisture in the soil. Rainfall declines considerably due to less rate of transpiration by the trees. Deforestation also threatens the life of tribal people. Cyclones can occur due to the denudation of mangrove forests. Hence the correct option is b.

FAQs

1. What are the differences between afforestation and reforestation?

Answer: Both afforestation and reforestation are planting new trees or making a new forest. But there are some differences between these two and they are as follows:

Afforestation

Reforestation

Growing a new forest in a barren land

Restoring the forest cover which already exist

New trees are planted over the entire naked area

New trees are planted on on those spots where they have been removed

Growth of trees never happened in these areas due to lack of seeds, trees or other environmental factors

The trees were removed in these areas due to overgrazing, shifting, cultivation, forest fires or for human purposes

2. What is the Chipko movement?

Answer: Chipko movement refers to the participation of people in conservation of forests that occurred in Garhwal, Himalayas in 1974. Some local women led by Gaura Devi showed enormous courage in protecting trees from the axe of contractors by hugging these trees. This incident gained momentum and people all over the world have acclaimed the Chipko movement.

Fig: Chipko movement

3. What is the Amrita Devi Bishnoi Wildlife Protection Award?

Answer: The Government of India has recently instituted the Amrita Devi Bishnoi Wildlife Protection Award in the honour of late Amrita Devi, who was killed in the Khejarli massacre (1730). She was trying to protect a grove of Khejri trees in Khejarli, Rajasthan. The individuals or communities from rural areas are awarded when they show extraordinary courage and dedication in protecting wildlife.

Fig: Amrita Devi Bishnoi

4. What is JFM?

Answer: JFM or the Joint Forest Management was introduced by the Government of India in 1980 after realising the significance of participation of local communities in protecting and managing the forests. Under the guidance of JFM the local communities involved in development and protection of the degraded forests in this program. In return for their services the communities will get various forest products (fruits, gums, rubbers, medicines, etc.). This protects the forest in a sustainable manner.

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