Norway recently became the first country to “ban” deforestation. Deforestation is clearly a global issue that has many ramifications for the environment. What, if anything, can we do to slow the rate of deforestation in the US and throughout the world?

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent-Deforestation has been a practice in developing countries and the United States for some time, and it has impacted the environment in both positive and negative ways. Most of the ill effects of deforestation are caused by corporations, companies, and individuals wanting to extract as many valuable resources and other byproducts as they can from heavily forested areas. They quickly move on to other spaces while using unsafe and illegal practices, which not only perpetuate greed, unchecked deforestation, and inefficient agricultural procedures, but government neglect.

The positive effects of deforestation have contributed to the development of residential communities, business complexes, factories and other structures, which has also enabled countries to build roads, transport systems that have had a profound effect on business and trade for individuals, companies and large corporations.

In addition, forest land can be converted for agricultural purposes, which results in the production of much needed food and materials that sustain communities and businesses. In this way, deforestation has presented beneficial economic contributions and positive life changing opportunities for individuals, groups and companies.

Deforestation simply must be kept in check and carried out in a cautious manner, which may entail giving it up altogether, as some countries have already done, or managing it under strict guidelines that governments throughout the world must comply with and follow.

Deforestation activities vary from country to country and region to region within a country. Some countries seek agricultural advantages through clearing forests and making room for ranching, extraction of tropical oils as well as growing soy for animal feed and other products. Wood and paper product demands in the United States and other places spur on deforestation and some of its ill effects.

Dealing with the delicate balance of forests and the ecosystems contained within them is a critical part of the process of slowing the rate of deforestation throughout the world. The poaching of forests through deforestation needs to be brought under control, and there are ways to accomplish that with world-wide and agreed upon regulations concerning specific resources and how they are extracted, managed and distributed throughout the United States and other countries.

The rate of deforestation in the United States and throughout the world can be slowed and changed by making the companies and corporations that invest in deforestation (and the removal of the products they utilize and produce for sale around the world, such as timber, paper, beef, soy and other resources) accountable by way of the suppliers they use.

Resources that are removed must be subject to strict inspection standards and extraction must have limited impact on the forest and the ecosystem. Any new resources taken from the area should be carefully screened and overseen by a third party entity. The same companies and corporations involved in cutting back production must also participate in the repurposing/recycling of wood, paper, pulp and other fibers utilized within their products. Environmental abuse by governments, companies and conglomerates must be constrained with consequences of fines and criminal prosecution. With exerted pressure, companies can change their destructive practices and find solutions to protect forests and the jobs of those working in their industries.

Individuals can make a difference in the deforestation dilemma as well, which means not only demanding and enacting appropriate and sensible kinds of forest conservation procedures in the United States and other countries around the world, but by curbing overconsumption themselves. Using recycled and repurposed products such as sustainable wood, consuming sustainable food items, and leading a minimalist lifestyle is of benefit, plus convincing others to follow the same practice is just one more step in advancing conservation in all areas of life.

The solutions for eliminating the environmental woes of deforestation are sound ones, but they should not extend to the point of overregulation where entire industries for the betterment of life and the world are shut out of existence. The forests can be saved and deforestation controlled but businesses dedicated to helping individuals throughout the world with products that improve and enhance life should not be stopped because of deforestation.

Gastonia, NC Correspondent-When I first moved here to North Carolina, I was enchanted by how much forest my small town still had. Right behind my house, there was a densely packed wooded area that stretched for acres. Everything from peregrine falcons to deer and small furry critters were regular sightings along my fence line. Then, right about the time I moved, the bulldozers arrived and within months an ugly expanse of featureless tract houses sprouted.

In this country, the American Dream of owning a house on a plot of land is killing our forests. We’re plowing under acres of virgin timber and building houses with all the architectural significance of a dumpster. I am encouraged by recent trends toward urbanization, with people leaving the ‘burbs to move back into the inner cities, but much more needs to be done to encourage this. Presently, it’s pretty much impossible for a middle-class family with kids to afford the kind of high-rent dwellings going into old warehouses, office buildings and the like.

Abroad, the global hunger for things like palm oil is leading to the wholesale destruction of forest lands. A worldwide effort to teach and support sustainable forestry and agriculture practices is desperately needed, but the countries we’re using for our breadbaskets have neither the infrastructure, the training nor the political will to make this happen. While I’m not a huge fan of the U.N. in general, it has in the past proven effective in huggy, happy projects like agriculture. Put the blue hats to work teaching people how to rotate crops, keep soil fertile and handle things like erosion control and invasive species.

Inevitably, there will be conflict with business interests over this. The global economy may well take a hit, since change always involves expense on this sort of scale. However, the alternative is a future where the air is foul, the planet is brown and we end up choking on our own success.

Sheffield, Jamaica Correspondent-Finally, it has come to pass. If you have been following the news, you’d be well aware that this is not Norway’s first attempt to prevent deforestation. In fact, according to Forbes, Norway contributed 1 billion dollars to Brazil in 2008, in an attempt to reduce the level of deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest. That, in every essence, was a beautiful gift to give!

On a strict note, the country is now the first to put a ban on deforestation. I fully support that initiative. Clearly, there are too many negative effectives when we completely remove our trees. It has too much of a devastating effect on the environment.

What is the United States doing to prevent deforestation? Surely, they didn’t impose a ban, but there are simple and practical initiatives that can be taken. If you remove trees, for the love of God, put it back! No, I don’t mean you should completely uproot a tree and then literally put it back. Simply, if you remove a tree or several at once, it’s important to replant. Do not leave an entire area empty. Our climatic conditions are too extreme to be that senseless.

That’s all I ask, plant back those trees. It might take years to grow, but it will. Like Norway, the Unites States should take action. Why wait until tomorrow? Do it now!

Owatonna, MN Correspondent-The best incentive (outside of the threat of prison, physical harm, or death) for persuading anyone to do anything is a monetary incentive. If a profit can be made by either doing something (planting trees) or refraining from doing something (cutting down trees), then entrepreneurs will find a way to make that action profitable.

Taxing is a monetary incentive in that it may motivate someone to not cut down trees if a tax is incurred for doing so. Tax credits may be an incentive to plant trees to directly replace those that have been harvested for construction, fuel, or other reasons. Tax laws should be enacted that require one-for-one replacement of harvested trees to ensure a net neutral effect on the environment.

Another monetary incentive is to eliminate tax law favoritism for fossil fuel producers and users such as oil companies, auto manufacturers, and utility companies. They have enjoyed privileged tax status for decades because they have one of the most influential groups of lobbies and allies in the world.

If fossil fuel producers are forced to comply with laws that mandate no net harm to the environment, then immediately gasoline and oil prices will rise dramatically to offset the costs to the oil companies of pollution mitigation. Automakers will have great incentive to invent non-polluting engines and motors that don’t add carbon dioxide and other pollutants to the atmosphere. Coal-fired and gas-fired power plant owners will have to pay to eliminate the pollution they generate from mining coal and natural gas, transporting those commodities to power plants, and burning that fuel to produce power. This will equalize the playing field so alternative energies that don’t pollute such as solar, wind, and nuclear will increase production, which will, in turn, drive down their costs.

Laws can also be passed that simply state all trees that are cut down must be used for some purpose such as construction or biofuel production. This would at least prevent the wanton destruction of mass areas of forests for the sole purpose of clearing the land for agriculture.

Speaking of agriculture, since cattle and hogs are two of the primary sources of methane pollution in the world, agribusinesses that mass produce livestock will also be forced to pay for methane removal or mitigation. Since this will likely raise the cost of animal protein, fewer animals will be raised, requiring fewer crops such as corn and soybeans to be grown for feed. Plant-based proteins will largely replace animal proteins, which will incentivize farmers to grow crops to feed humans rather than livestock.

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