Hi everyone and welcome back to this week’s post. Today, I’ll be talking about deforestation and how it is linked to human-wildlife conflicts (HWCs).
What is deforestation?
It is when forests are cleared so that the land can be used for other purposes, or when the decrease in tree canopy cover goes below the 10% limit and has long-lasting effects (FAO, 2001). Forests are cleared for many purposes such as agriculture and for building up urban areas for settlement. This can cause many negative environmental impacts (National Geographic, undated) which include:
- Eliminating carbon sinks hence resulting in increased amount of greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere, exacerbating global warming
- Habitat loss
- And many others
One of the most severe impacts however, is the loss of habitat, because this lowers the survival rate of many species that live in the forest due to the loss of their homes (National Geographic, undated). The loss of habitat also leads to HWCs as wildlife are forced out of their home and into settlements. This results in conflict when there is increased contact between wildlife and humans and interests of humans and wildlife clash.
An example of this is the human-tiger conflict in Sumatra where more than 16 million acres of forests have been destroyed (WWF, undated).
This has caused habitat loss that pressures them to move and search for food nearer to urbanised areas due to the reduction in availability of their natural food sources (Bell, 2014). HWC arises as tigers start to prey on livestock as they move nearer to settlements (Bell, 2014). Not only that, deforestation has also resulted in cases of Sumatran tigers killing humans to arise in 2009 (Reuters, 2009), and such cases have continued to surface even until this year (Channel NewsAsia, 2017), further exacerbating the human-tiger conflict. A common reaction of villagers to this conflict is to kill the tigers which are already critically endangered (WWF, undated). This is due to reasons like poaching for the illegal wildlife trade, loss of habitat and human-tiger conflict where 15% of tigers killed was due to this reason, resulting in a small and declining population (Linkie et al., 2008).
So, from the above example, we can see how deforestation can cause human-wildlife conflicts which can contribute to other environmental problems. Next week, I’ll be talking more about this topic, with a special focus on palm oil, so do look out for the next post on that!
Until next time!
Deforestation. Food and Agricultural Organisation (2001). Retrieved on 2 November from: http://www.fao.org/docrep/009/j9345e/j9345e07.htm
Deforestation. National Geographic (undated). Retrieved on 2 November from: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/deforestation/
Deforestation behind Sumatran tiger attacks: WWF. Reuter (2009). Retrieved on 2 November from: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-indonesia-tigers/deforestation-behind-sumatran-tiger-attacks-wwf-idUSTRE51O2OH20090225
Sumatran tiger mauls Indonesian man to death. Channel NewsAsia (2017). Retrieved on 2 November from: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/sumatran-tiger-mauls-indonesian-man-to-death-7568782
Deforestation drives tigers into contact, conflict with humans. Bell (2014). Retrieved on 2 November from: https://news.mongabay.com/2014/06/deforestation-drives-tigers-into-contact-conflict-with-humans/
Panthera Tigris ssp. Sumatrae. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Linkie, Wibisono, Martyr & Sunarto (2008). Retrieved on 2 November from: http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T15966A5334836.en
Sumatran Tiger. WWF (undated). Retrieved on 2 November from: https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/sumatran-tiger