A few years ago, while traveling in the mountainous regions of South India, I came across stunning green patches of tea plantations. As far as my eyes could see, there were endless stretches of lush greenery, where tea pickers diligently harvested tea leaves. The scenery was serene and pleasing to the eye. However, my perspective and emotions towards this landscape underwent a complete transformation. Shortly after my trip, I learned from a South Indian Natural Farming Community that these green lands were once ancient forests. The deforestation had taken place to make way for monocrop tea plantations, driven by the increasing demand for tea. This realization made me stop appreciating the serene green beauty that I had once admired.
Not long after, I also discovered that coffee production worldwide follows a similar pattern: grown as monocrop on deforested land. This prompted me to embark on a quest to find biodiversity-friendly coffee and tea. While I faced disappointment in finding such tea, I was successful in finding climate-positive coffee. Climate Wave Coffee was born.
I have a great love for animals and birds. They are completely dependent on forests for their food, shelter, and overall survival. The act of deforestation poses a significant threat to their existence.
Loss of Food Sources: Deforestation often eliminates or diminishes the availability of food sources for animals that rely on specific plant species for sustenance. Many animals, including herbivores and omnivores, depend on the diverse plant life found in forests for their diet. When these plants are cleared, animals may struggle to find adequate food, leading to malnutrition, decreased reproductive success, and ultimately, population decline.
Loss of Shelter and Nesting Sites: Trees provide crucial shelter and nesting sites for a wide range of animal species. Deforestation removes these vital structures, leaving animals exposed to harsh weather conditions, predation, and other threats. Species that rely on specific tree types or features for nesting, such as tree hollows or dense foliage, may struggle to find suitable alternatives in deforested areas. This can disrupt breeding cycles, reduce reproductive success, and increase vulnerability to stressors.
Disruption of Migration and Movement Patterns: Deforestation can fragment landscapes and disrupt natural migration and movement patterns of animals. Many species rely on expansive forest habitats to undertake seasonal migrations, find mates, or access essential resources. When these habitats are fragmented or destroyed, animals may face barriers to movement, encounter unfamiliar territories, or be forced to navigate through hostile environments such as agricultural fields or urban areas. Such disruptions can lead to increased stress, reduced access to breeding grounds or food sources, and ultimately threaten the survival of migratory species.
Scientists estimate that deforestation contributes significantly to species loss, with some studies suggesting that it is a leading cause of biodiversity decline globally.
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), deforestation is responsible for the loss of about 18.7 million acres of forests annually, equivalent to approximately 27 soccer fields every minute. This rapid destruction of habitats puts countless species at risk of extinction. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has warned that if current trends continue, up to one million species could face extinction in the coming decades, many of them due to habitat loss, including deforestation.
While it's challenging to provide an exact percentage of species loss attributable to deforestation, it's evident that it has a significant and detrimental impact on global biodiversity, leading to the decline and extinction of numerous plant and animal species.
The existence of animals plays a crucial role in reducing greenhouse gases in the environment. Animals contribute to the balance of ecosystems through various mechanisms such as carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling, and maintaining vegetation cover. For instance, herbivores help control plant growth, which in turn influences carbon absorption by forests and grasslands. Additionally, animals like burrowing mammals aid in soil aeration, enhancing its capacity to store carbon. Furthermore, marine organisms like phytoplankton contribute significantly to carbon capture in oceans through photosynthesis. Therefore, preserving animal populations and their habitats is vital for mitigating climate change and ensuring a healthy and balanced environment.
The simplest yet most effective climate action anyone can take is to use our superpower and choose climate-positive coffees.
"Deforestation." World Wildlife Fund. Accessed February 8, 2024. https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation.
Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Accessed February 8, 2024. https://www.ipbes.net.
Praveen Ponraj is the founder of Climate Wave Coffee and the author of climate-action framework: Climate Wave Coffee Solutions