The Problem with Agricultural Deforestation

On the heels of an informative debate about Zero Deforestation put on by Business Green, today’s short blog post will quickly cover the usage of land in agriculture, and how wasting up to 40% of the food that this land produces is severely harming our planet.

Deforestation in Agriculture

As more agricultural production is needed (or thought to be needed) to feed the growing number of people on Earth, and their changing eating habits, deforestation has become the norm to accommodate new agricultural areas. Deforestation is a major problem in these days and is attributed as a large cause of climate change. Without these forests, there are far less trees and plants to perform the photosynthesis we need to produce fresh air. It’s estimated that agriculture is responsible for about 75% of the deforestation seen every year.

Why deforestation isn’t the answer

As the global population increases, there’s a false sense that more deforestation is needed to allow for more agricultural production. The problem with this is that we’re cutting down forests when our current agricultural production (or less than the current total) could easily feed the entire global population, with room to spare. The FAO reported that approximately 1,4 billion hectares of land, a bigger size than Canada and India combined, were used to produce food that was never eaten. We need to make use of the land we’re already using, instead of venturing off to find new land. Another issue is the increasing demand for meat products. A hectare of land used to produce meat can feed 1-2 people in a year, while one that harvests rice or potatoes could feed 19-22.

This shows the increasingly inefficient use of our land, and we’re trying to solve this problem by chopping down more forests or polluting our land and water with ample amounts of fertilizer and other toxic substances. This is not the answer. We need to face this problem from the bottom up, and tell the entire food chain that we need to use our existing resources more efficiently.

Amazon Deforesation
The devastating deforestation seen in the Amazon rainforest is just one example of the growing problem. Source: NASA Earth Observatory

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