The Unexpected Effects of Deforestation (extra credit post)

Deforestation, “the permanent destruction of forests in order to make the land available for other uses” (LifeScience, 2018), is moving at such an alarming pace that all of the world’s forests could be diminished in just 100 years if this trend continues.1 Roughly 18 million acres of forests are lost each year, and global tree loss reached a record high of 73.4 million acres in 2016.1 This loss of trees means not only the loss of wildlife habitats, but also the loss of a significant oxygen source, and an aid in a healthy water cycle.1 The loss of habitats leads directly to species extinction, as it deprives animals of their main source of food, water, and shelter. 80% of the earth’s land animals live in forests, so naturally the destruction of forests has begun to greatly decrease the worldwide population of many species, specifically the amur leopard, Asian elephant, and bonobo.1,2,3 Additionally, because trees are such an important source of oxygen, losing them means additional CO2 buildup in the atmosphere, which is a greenhouse gas known to be a significant contributing factor to global climate change.1,2 It has become evident that deforestation is contributing to climate change as much as other, more well-known factors, like the burning of fossil fuels. Trees are also important to water cycles as they “absorb rain fall and produce water vapor that is released into the atmosphere” (LifeScience, 2018), as well as lessen water pollution and maintain balance between the water on land and in the atmosphere.1,2 Major causes for deforestation include the production of palm oil, wood, paper products, urbanization purposes, and to make room for cattle ranching.1,3

The act of reforestation, which is simply the mass planting of trees, is thought, by many, to be the best/only solution to the issue of deforestation.1 It is believed that reforestation efforts would be able to “[restore] the ecosystem services provided by forests including carbon storage, water cycling and wildlife habitat, [reduce] the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, [rebuild] wildlife habitats” (LifeScience, 2018).1 There are many efforts being put forth by organizations/non-profits with these specific goals in mind, which provides hope that this damage may be reversible, and that we may, in fact, be able to counteract the effects of deforestation.



An image of a soy field that has replaced a large portion of a tropical rainforest (LifeScience, 2018).

An image of what once used to be a forest, but what is now the stumps of many trees that have been cut down for pal oil production (World Wildlife Fund, 2019).


  1. LifeScience, “Deforestation: Facts, Causes & Effects,” April 3, 2018,
  2. World Wildlife Fund, “Deforestation and Forest Degradation,” Accessed June 14, 2019,
  3. National Geographic, “Deforestation explained,” February 7, 2019,


Fracking Effects on Fisheries and Wildlife

21 states in the US, including Ohio, allow and practice hydraulic fracking, a method of extracting oil and natural gas by “injecting fluid into subterranean rock formations at high pressure.”[1][2] Fracking has become an increasingly common method of oil/natural gas production, and now makes up 67 percent of natural gas production and 51 percent of crude oil production in the US.[1] The states are given primary authority over fracking regulations, though every state in which fracking takes place must abide by federal legislation including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act.[1] These, among other regulations, are put in place with the objective to protect the environment from the many negative effects of fracking. Despite these federal standards which must be met, fracking still has extremely harsh effects on surrounding wildlife and fisheries. A study conducted at Duke University in 2015 found that fracking operations produced 210 billion gallons of wastewater from 2005 to 2014.[1] This wastewater, which has been mixed with sand/sediment particles, and multiple chemicals, before being injected underground to produce oil, is stored in large, underground disposal wells after the fracking process is complete.[1][3] This method of storage presents many issues to the environment. According to the National Parks Conservation Association, approximately 20-40 percent of stored wastewater is released back into the environment during drilling and production.[3] This wastewater that is accidentally released ends up contaminating waterways, killing fish, contributing to excess algae growth, and even killing the wildlife that relies on these waterways for their fresh drinking water.[3] Cattle and other farm animals are impacted just by the contamination of the groundwater where they graze, and many instances of mass death of cattle have been recorded[3] These are few among many issues that fracking presents to wildlife, including air pollution, and habitat loss, a result of earthquakes caused by the underground wastewater wells. It is clear that fracking is extremely harmful to the environment and that the current regulations put on the processes are not enough the protect the wildlife and fisheries that are put in harm’s way. It is important that stricter laws are put in place in order to improve fracking practices or, in certain areas, disband them all together.

Figure 1. Identifies the 21 state that have fracking sites in the US.[2]

Figure 2. Shows the thousands of fracking sites that exist in Ohio alone.[1]



  1. Ballotpedia, “Fracking in Ohio,” accessed May 29, 2019,
  2. Inside Climate News, “Map: The Fracking Boom, State by State,” January 20, 2015,
  3. National Parks Conservation association, “Fracking and National Park Wildlife,” May 28, 2013,