Ecological balance in the - deforestation and forest degradation

What is Deforestation?

Deforestation can be defined as the large-scale removal of trees from forests (or other lands) for the facilitation of human activities. It is a serious environmental concern since it can result in the loss of biodiversity, damage khổng lồ natural habitats, disturbances in the water cycle, & soil erosion. Deforestation is also a contributor to climate change and global warming.

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Why are Forests Important?

Forests combat climate change by absorbing greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide) và acting as a carbon storehouse.They are a source of oxygen, food, clean water, & medicine.They play a vital role in the water cycle – they work to địa chỉ water to lớn the atmosphere via the process of transpiration.Forests help mitigate the disastrous effects of floods by acting as a floodwater sink. Therefore, deforestation also increases the vulnerability of the landmass khổng lồ certain natural calamities.Forests are home to over một nửa of all known species on the planet. They tài khoản for over 80% of the land-based biodiversity. Globally, forests are trang chủ to approximately 30,00,00,000 human beings.They are also a source of raw material for many commercially important products such as paper, wood, & fabric.Approximately 1.6 billion jobs are forest-dependent. Forests also account for approximately 1% of the world’s GDP (gross domestic product).

The Data behind Deforestation

Forests cover approximately 31% of the total land surface of the Earth.Tropical forests harbour over half of all land-based animal & plant species in the world.Between the years 2000 & 2012, over 568 million acres of forest have been claimed by deforestation.Approximately 9 million acres of virgin tropical forest were cut down in the year 2018.The Amazon rainforest, which is the source of 20% of the world’s oxygen supply, loses approximately 1.32 acres of its area every minute due to lớn deforestation.

Causes of Deforestation

What are the Human Activities that Cause Deforestation?

The primary anthropogenic activities (human activities) that contribute lớn deforestation include:

Agriculture – small-scale và large-scale farming
Logging – cutting of trees for use as raw material
Mining & urban expansion – clearing of forest area for the construction of infrastructure.

According to the secretariat of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), agriculture is the root cause of 80% of deforestation. Logging accounts for another 14% and the cutting of trees for use as wood fuel tài khoản for 5%. A pie-chart detailing the driving cause of the deforestation of tropical forests between the years 2000 and 2005 is provided below.


Slash-and-burn agriculture is one of the most destructive forms of agriculture that results in large-scale deforestation. It involves the burning of a large area of forest land & the subsequent plantation of crops in the same soil (which is now fertilized by the ashes of the burnt trees). Despite the practice being abandoned by several developed countries, it is still followed in some Southeast Asian countries.

What are the Secondary Factors that Contribute to Deforestation?

Illegal logging, which accounts for approximately 80% of all logging activities, involves the harvesting and sale of timber in violation of the law. Corrupt government officials may accept bribes from illegal loggers and offer access to protected forest areas in return. Therefore, corruption can be viewed as an indirect cause of deforestation.

Overpopulation và population growth increase the requirement for several resources such as food & infrastructure. These requirements can, directly or indirectly, result in deforestation. For example, a huge explosion in the population of a đô thị can result in the deforestation of the surrounding area for:

The construction of homes and other buildings.Agriculture (to meet the increased demand for food).The construction of roads, dams, & other infrastructure.

Military conflicts among humans can also result in deforestation. For example, the U.S. Military made extensive use of Agent Orange (a defoliant that causes the leaves of trees lớn wither và fall off) during the Vietnam War (1955 – 1975).

Can Deforestation Occur due to lớn Natural Causes?

In some relatively rare cases, the deforestation of forest areas can be traced lớn natural causes. For example, volcanic eruptions can burn away the forest lands surrounding the volcano. Other examples of natural deforestation include:

Destruction of forests due to hurricanes, floods, và other natural calamities.Invasion of the forest ecosystem by parasites that destroy trees.Forest fires are sparked by lightning & other natural phenomena.

It is important to chú ý that natural factors have a very small stake in the overall deforestation of the Earth’s land surface (anthropogenic factors tài khoản for almost all of it).

How Does Deforestation Affect the Environment?

Increased Carbon Dioxide Levels in the Atmosphere

Forests serve as a carbon sink by absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide during photosynthesis. Since carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, deforestation is a direct contributor khổng lồ the greenhouse effect và (consequently) global warming.

Apart from being responsible for allowing gaseous carbon dioxide to linger in the atmosphere, deforestation also contributes lớn increased carbon dioxide emissions. The CO2 emissions caused by deforestation trương mục for approximately 12% of all anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions.

Deforestation & the Water Cycle

Since trees play a vital role in the water cycle, deforestation can contribute to significant disturbances in it.Trees and plants regulate the moisture nội dung in the atmosphere via the process of transpiration (they absorb groundwater through their roots & release it into the atmosphere from their leaves & flowers).Also, their roots burrow into the soil & create macropores in it. These macropores allow water lớn penetrate deeper into the soil, thereby increasing the water-holding capacity of the soil.Dead plant material (such as leaves & twigs) that fall lớn the surface of the ground impart several properties khổng lồ the soil, such as increased water-holding capacity.Approximately 30% of the world’s freshwater supply can be sourced from tropical rainforests.Deforestation is accompanied by reduced humidity, owing to the absence of transpiring trees. The water nội dung in the soil and the groundwater levels also decline in the cleared land.It is not uncommon for deforested land lớn experience extremely arid climates. In fact, deforestation has been linked khổng lồ desertification & droughts.

Soil Erosion as a Consequence of Deforestation

Trees tend khổng lồ bind their roots lớn the soil bedrock, thereby reinforcing the soil. Additionally, the plant litter generated by trees offers protection khổng lồ the surface of the soil. In the absence of trees (as a consequence of deforestation), the soil becomes vulnerable to lớn erosion.

Deforestation of sloped lands is often accompanied by landslides, which can be explained by the loss of soil adhesion due lớn the absence of trees. The extent of erosion is amplified by certain natural calamities such as floods (note that the plant litter found on forest surfaces helps reduce the amount of soil washed away).

Since soil erosion is a direct contributor khổng lồ eutrophication, deforestation can be viewed as a contributor to lớn other environmental concerns.

Effects of Deforestation on Biodiversity

Forests play host lớn a wide spectrum of wildlife. In fact, tropical rainforests are believed khổng lồ be the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. Deforestation poses a grave threat to this biodiversity. On a local scale, the clearing of forest land can cause a decline in the population of certain species. On a global scale, however, deforestation can result in the extinction of several desirable species.

Approximately 50,000 species (consisting of plants, animals, & insects) are lost every year as a consequence of deforestation. Studies suggest that over 40% of all plant and animal species in the Southeast Asian region will undergo extinction over the course of the 21st century.

The implications of large-scale biodiversity loss are difficult to predict, but it is highly probable that it would have an adverse effect on the food web. Also, the extinction of one species may play a leading role in the extinction of another via the phenomenon of co-extinction.

Other Effects of Deforestation

How Does Deforestation Affect the Economy?

Deforestation facilitates the generation of raw materials for a wide range of industries. Examples include the agriculture industry, the wood industry, & the construction industry.However, the overexploitation of wood & timber can have a negative impact on the economy. The short-term economic gains made from deforestation are accompanied by reduced long-term productivity.For example, overenthusiastic timber harvesting from a forest area may increase the overall output đầu ra temporarily, but the declining forest area will eventually cause the harvest khổng lồ decline. The overall forest đầu ra is greatly reduced by such practices.According to lớn some reports, the global GDP may see a 7% decline by the year 2050 due to lớn deforestation & other factors.Therefore, a sustainable approach to the usage of forest resources is ideal for the economy.

Deforestation and Human Health

Deforestation can, directly or indirectly, provide a channel for the propagation of many infectious diseases. Since deforestation is often accompanied by the loss of indigenous species, it is not uncommon for new species to flourish in deforested lands.

In Malaysia, the geographic shift of the fruit bat population (as a consequence of deforestation) facilitated the transmission of the Nipah virus. Fruit bats, which are known lớn be vectors of the disease, lost their natural habitat due to deforestation và started feeding in the orchards surrounding habited areas. Through proximity, the Nipah vi khuẩn spread from fruit bats lớn pigs, & then khổng lồ humans.

Increased soil erosion (due khổng lồ deforestation) can result in the formation of pools of stagnant water. These pools serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which are vectors of several deadly diseases such as malaria & yellow fever. Some theories also suggest that deforestation has contributed to lớn the propagation of the hiv/aids (HIV).

How can Deforestation be Controlled?

Role of Governments and other Administrative Authorities

The following strategies can be implemented by governments to lớn combat deforestation:

Implementation of security measures & strict laws to lớn prevent illegal logging.Increasing the count and range of forests under government protection.Carefully planning the construction of infrastructure (roads, dams, etc.) in order khổng lồ minimize the loss of forest area.Investing in new technologies in the agricultural industry (such as hydroponics) và helping farmers implement eco-friendly agricultural practices (such as cyclic agriculture).Optimizing the management of forests by banning inefficient agricultural practices (such as slash-and-burn agriculture).Facilitating the production and use of wood alternatives to reduce the demand for timber. For example, bamboo can serve as an alternative to wood fuel.Investing in forest plantations – forests planted with high yielding trees can offer 5 – 10 times the output đầu ra (per hectare) of a natural forest.

Role of Individuals

Every human on the planet shares the responsibility of preserving its resources (for other humans, other species, & for future generations). An individual can contribute to lớn the prevention of deforestation by implementing the 3R (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle) principle in their daily lives.

Reduce – Reducing the amount of paper consumed by using alternatives wherever possible.Reuse – Avoid use-and-throw products lớn prevent wastage.Recycle – Diligently recycle all used wood & paper products.

Individuals can also combat deforestation by spreading awareness about its negative consequences and participating in tree-planting campaigns.

To learn more about deforestation & other important environmental concerns (such as soil pollution), register with BYJU’S and download the mobile application on your smartphone.

What is deforestation? What is the definition of deforestation & why is deforestation happening? Let’s figure out what are the causes & effects of deforestation, as well as what solutions can be adopted to stop it.

What Is Deforestation?

Deforestation refers to lớn the decrease in forest areas across the world that are lost for other uses such as agricultural croplands, urbanization, or mining activities. Greatly accelerated by human activities since 1960, deforestation has been negatively affecting natural ecosystems, biodiversity, and the climate. The UN’s Food & Agriculture Organization estimates the annual rate of deforestation to lớn be around 1.3 million km2 per decade.

The Causes of Deforestation: Why Is Deforestation Happening?

Multiple factors, either of human or natural origin, cause deforestation. Natural factors include natural forest fires or parasite-caused diseases which can result in deforestation. Nevertheless, human activities are among the main causes of global deforestation. According lớn the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO), the expansion of agriculture caused nearly 80% of global deforestation, with the construction of infrastructures such as roads or dams, together with mining activities và urbanization, making up the remaining causes of deforestation.

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1. Agriculture is the Number 1 Cause of Deforestation (~80%)

Why is deforestation happening? According khổng lồ the FAO, agriculture causes around 80% of deforestation. And how does agriculture cause so much deforestation? According to the same report, 33% of agriculture-caused deforestation is a consequence of subsistence agriculture – such as local peasant agriculture in developing countries.

Commercial or industrial agriculture (field crops và livestock) cause around 40% of forest loss – in the search for space khổng lồ grow food, fibers or biofuel (such as soybeans, palm oil, beef, rice, maize, cotton và sugar cane). It is also particularly interesting to note livestock is believed khổng lồ be responsible for about 14% of global deforestation. The main reasons why have to do with the large areas require both khổng lồ raise livestock but also lớn grow its (soy-based) food.

2. Deforestation Caused By New Constructions (~15%)

The construction of human infrastructures has also been driving deforestation. More specifically, 10% of deforestation can be attributed khổng lồ new infrastructures that serve the current human lifestyle in four main ways: transportation, transformation and energy generation.

On one hand, roads, rails, ports or airports have been built khổng lồ move all sorts of goods – from cereals và fruits lớn spices, minerals or fossil fuels – either directly khổng lồ trade centers or lớn transformation sites. So while at first there were only fruit trees, roads soon arrived lớn allow transporting fruit lớn other regions. & while some goods were và are collected manually, others such as coal, oil, natural gas, biomass, but also meat, dairy or spirits, required the construction of large extraction, transportation and/or transformation infrastructures.

3. How Urbanization Is Causing Deforestation (~5%)

The populational shift that is leading people lớn move from rural areas to lớn urban areas is also contributing khổng lồ deforestation (5%, according to lớn FAO). This urban growth – in which 68% of the world’s population is expected khổng lồ live in cities by 2050 – is leading khổng lồ an exponential growth of housing and consumption sites. And as cities become larger so they can host more people, they challenge the natural boundaries surrounding them, often leading khổng lồ deforestation. This is one of the reasons why deforestation is happening.

Deforestation Effects – How Does Deforestation Affect The Environment?

Deforestation has many consequences for natural ecosystems and it poses serious problems to the resilience of the planet. Let’s take a look at the main effects of deforestation lớn better understand why it is bad for the planet.

1 – The Effects of Deforestation on Biodiversity

The most known consequence of deforestation is its threat to biodiversity. In fact, forests represent some of the most veritable hubs of biodiversity. From mammals to lớn birds, insects, amphibians or plants, the forest is home to many rare và fragile species.80% of the Earth’s land animals & plants live in forests.

By destroying the forests, human activities are putting entire ecosystems in danger, creating natural imbalances, và putting Life at threat. The natural world is complex, interconnected, & made of thousands of inter-dependencies và among other functions, trees provide shade & colder temperatures for animals & smaller trees or vegetation which may not survive with the heat of direct sunlight. Besides, trees also feeding animals with their fruits while providing them with food và shelter they need to lớn survive.

Aren’t you yet sure about the importance of biodiversity for the planet’s balance & for human life? Then you should find out some examples of how Life is interconnected:

2 – The Effects of Deforestation on Local People and Their Livelihoods

Healthy forests tư vấn the livelihoods of 1.6 billion people globally, one billion of whom are among the world’s poorest. This means there are many people depending on forests for survival và using them to lớn hunt and gather raw products for their small-scale agriculture processes. But in developing countries such as Borneo, Indonesia, Vietnam, Brazil, or Mexico, land tenure systems are weak. This allows big businesses khổng lồ get these lands và use them for other ends, disrupting local people’s lives.

Locals then have khổng lồ make one of two choices. They can decide khổng lồ abandon “their” land and migrate somewhere else, avoiding conflict & embracing the challenge of a new different life. Or they can stay và work for the companies exploring it in remote plantations – often getting unfair wages and working under inhumane conditions. In some countries like Mexico, plantations’ owners are often forced to tóm tắt their profits with local cartels to keep their families alive and to avoid having their crops burned

Related: Is Avocado Production Sustainable? The Social Impact Of Cartels In Avocado Production

3 – Deforestation for Food May Lead to lớn Food Insecurity in the Future

Today, 52% of all the land used for food production is moderately or severely impacted by soil erosion. In the long term, the lack of healthy, nutritious soil can lead lớn low yields and food insecurity.

4 – Soil Erosion is One of the Consequences of Deforestation

Deforestation weakens và degrades the soil. Forested soils are usually not only richer on organic matter, but also more resistant khổng lồ erosion, bad weather, & extreme weather events. This happens mainly because roots help fix trees in the ground and the sun-blocking tree cover helps the soil to lớn slowly dry out. As a result, deforestation will probably mean the soil will become increasingly fragile, leaving the area more vulnerable to lớn natural disasters such as landslides và floods.

5 – Deforestation Affects and Contributes khổng lồ Climate Change

Deforestation also has a very strong contribution to lớn climate change. Why? Let’s remember trees absorb & store CO2 throughout their lives. If we speak about tropical forests, they hold more than 210 gigatons of carbon, according to WWF. & what’s worrying is that the destruction of these trees has two big negative side-effects.

Firstly, taking down trees means they’ll release back into the atmosphere the CO2 they were keeping. Secondly, fewer trees available means reducing the planet’s overall ability lớn capture and store CO2. Both these effects negatively contribute khổng lồ the greenhouse effect and to climate change. As a matter of fact, while food and agriculture account for 24% of greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation is estimated to be responsible for 10-15% of all anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

Understanding Deforestation In Video

To understand the challenges of deforestation, kiểm tra this National Geographic video.

Where Is Deforestation Happening? Countries Most Impacted By Deforestation

Around the world, deforestation occurs mostly in the tropics where there are different types of forests are: from wet và hot rainforests to lớn others that thảm bại their leaves in the dry season và become woodlands. Some parts of the world have managed lớn protect their forests from deforestation while others have seen their forestal area decline.

According khổng lồ FAO’s report, 6 million hectares of land were lost from forest to agriculture since 1990 in the tropical domain. These changes significantly differ but there are 3 important worldwide examples of deforestation: the Amazon rainforest, Indonesia & Borneo, và Africa.

The Effects Of Deforestation In The Amazon Rainforest

Brazil and the Amazon forest are also important (for the wrong reasons) deforestation areas worldwide. The Amazon Rainforest is one of the world’s largest forest hotspots, with huge biodiversity reserves. Its ability to store carbon & produce oxygen makes it of the “lungs” of the planet.

Since the 1960s, the Amazon forest has been under threat, & nearly 760 000 km2 (around 20% of its original size) of forest area was lost. Before 1980-1990, large industrial projects such as dams, roads, or mines were the main causes of deforestation in the Amazon region, together with subsistence farming. However, for around thirty years, the causes of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest are changing. Why?

According lớn various reports on the subject (Greenpeace, FAO), livestock farming, including soya production, is responsible for about 70 to 80% of deforestation in the Amazon region. The development of intensive livestock production, combined with meat consumption increases in developed countries, is thus the main cause of deforestation in the Amazon forest.

The Effects Of Deforestation In Southeast Asia – Indonesia and Borneo


Indonesia và the island of Borneo are emblematic symbols of the global phenomenon of deforestation. This region in Southeast Asia is naturally one of the richest reserves of forest và biodiversity in the world. But at the same time, it is also one of the regions that have been suffering the most deforestation in recent decades. According to lớn FAO, between 1990 và 2012 alone, Indonesia lost about 9 million hectares of its forests, largely due lớn deforestation caused by palm oil.

One of the most important causes of deforestation in Indonesia and Borneo is unquestionably the production of palm oil. According to lớn FAO, between 1990 và 2000, nearly 6 million hectares of palm oil plantations have gradually replaced Indonesian forests. This makes the palm oil industry one of the biggest contributors lớn deforestation in Southeast Asia – and it is expected to lớn continue khổng lồ be so.

Due lớn pressure from NGOs (such as Greenpeace’s recent report) và new regulations, as well the expectations of consumers, the situation of the palm oil industry is slowly starting to improve. Certifications are starting to appear, including sustainable palm oil labels (that aim to prove it comes from certified forests và workers are fairly paid) like RSPO.

Indonesia now accounts for nearly 35% of the world’s sustainable palm oil production, although the sustainable palm oil market is still small (only 19% is certified). Despite industries still posing serious environmental problems, the truyền thông spotlight on this topic is beginning lớn shift the lines.

Deforestation In Africa

Africa is also a large area suffering from deforestation. In fact, it experiences more deforestation than Asia: about 2 million hectares of forest disappear each year in Africa. In Nigeria, for instance, over 90% of forests were lost because of practices that started in the colonial era. Woodcutting of forest reserves và the development of cocoa và palm oil plantations are among the main causes of deforestation in Africa, together with land cleaning for mining activities.

What Animals Are Affected By Deforestation?

Unconventional production practices that illegally take down trees and use dangerous chemicals threaten forests và wildlife. In this way, exploiting crops such as palm oil, wood, coffee or avocados has side effects that affect the environment & the surrounding ecosystems. It’s estimated that the Earth’s biodiversity is going extinct 0,1%, or aprox. 200 species per day, every year. Some of the animals under greatest threat are:

Elephants – especially in Sumatra and Borneo
Indonesian tigers – the last surviving ones are struggling to bởi vì so on the island of Sumatra

How Can We Stop Deforestation? Solutions to lớn Deforestation

How can we stop deforestation? According to OECD, the human population is expected to continue khổng lồ increase và reach over 9 billion people by 2050. At the current rate of consumption, & with more people inhabiting Earth, the need for more space lớn grow food and extract natural resources is only likely to increase – depending, of course, on tech development such as artificial foods. As the demand for food or raw materials like cotton or minerals increases, so does the need to turn forests into farmland, pastureland, or mining spots. Under this broader perspective, how can we stop deforestation?

1 – Eating Less Meat Helps Stop Deforestation

How can we stop deforestation? According to the WWF, livestock-caused deforestation is responsible for the discharge of 3.4% of current global emissions of carbon khổng lồ the atmosphere every year. That’s why the late 2018 IPCC report stood out that reducing meat consumption by 90% is the single biggest way to reduce global warming.

Some studies also show that without meat và dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by over 75%. In this way, reducing your meat consumption is also a big step to stop not only deforestation but also global warming on a larger scale. Remember: a lot of space is needed to lớn grow both animals và the food they consume, while other nutritious foods could be grown & result in larger food quantities using the same space. Why not saving meat for important occasions only?

2 – Consuming Less & More Consciously Helps Stop Deforestation

As consumers we can choose to buy less industrial và transformed products such as cookies, crips, noodles or cosmetics that use plenty of palm oil. Instead, we can go for a home-made approach with fewer chemicals & food preservatives which is better for both the planet & our health.

However, if you are not willing to lớn make such changes – because they are time consuming – you can still consume more responsibly while keeping your lifestyle. To lớn this regard, you can buy products from brands adopting eco-friendly business practices. When it comes lớn food, buying directly khổng lồ small farmers using agroforestry practices is the best choice for the planet.

3 – khổng lồ Stop Deforestation, When You Consume: Use, Use, Use

Your smartphone, your máy tính or your car, lớn name a few, are all made of aluminium, plastic và rare Earth minerals, among other materials. To lớn get these, (just like foods like coffee or cacao) land was clear to build mining sites, roads và factories and where built to lớn transport and transform them, powerplants provide them with energy…

The longer we use our products for, the higher the changes that demand doesn’t grow (it won’t likely decrease either – there are more people in the planet every day). Economically-speaking, if the demand doesn’t grow, production won’t grow either and it it is not necessary to clear more space to lớn extract natural resources & build human infrastructures might, deforestation (and carbon emissions from the industry) might just not increase.

4 – Leaving Fossil Fuels & Palm Oil Behind

Nearly half of UE’s imports of palm oil are used as biofuels – although proposals khổng lồ ban subsidies are currently under debate. Since diesel and petrol are mixed with biofuels, choosing other transportation methods such as walking, cycling or car-sharing can be good ways of reducing palm oil importations (and production) & to help stop deforestation.

5 – Lead by Example and Spread Awareness

If you start adopting the behaviors mentioned above to lớn help stop deforestation you can lead by your example. Teach your family, friends or colleagues what deforestation is and why it is happening, the causes & consequences of deforestation, và what solutions individuals, consumers và organizations can adopt.

A Broader Perspective: How Can We Stop Deforestation?

Apart from people’s individual contributions lớn stop deforestation, from a political và systemic perspective, other more direct & hands-on actions approaches can be taken:

1 – Fighting illegal logging & limiting logging in old-growth forests;

2 – Protecting forested areas by creating laws & policies that ensure forests are kept protected và restored and betting on land practices such as wildfire corridors;

3 – Reforming trade agreements, starting to lớn value differently products obtained through deforestation, and creating incentives for the use of sustainable forestry certifications such as FSC;

4 – Educating local communities và tourists about the need to lớn protect forests và develop và enroll in ecotourism activities.

What Are People Doing lớn Stop Deforestation?

What is being currently done do stop deforestation? Efforts to lớn replant deforested areas are taking place every day. Unfortunately, some replanting is done with the goal of quickly growing trees khổng lồ be exploited in the short-term by the logging industry. These often consist of monotypic plantations (less resilient, more appealing lớn harmful environmental management practices) such as eucalyptus or pines. This is no small effort: there are 1.3 million km2 of these plantations on Earth, according khổng lồ FAO.

At the same time, efforts khổng lồ stop deforestation using more ecological management practices are also underway thanks to lớn forest protection NGOs, eco-villages, UN initiatives and workgroups, và national governments such as New Zealand’s.

Image credits to deforestation on Shutterstock, trees deforestation on Shutterstock & palm oil deforestation on Shutterstock

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