Trees in Danger: Forest Fires and Deforestation

Sometimes, trees are taken for granted. They can be seen out in the forest and around residential communities. Some are large and lush, while others are small and sparse. These trees are more than just an ornamental part of life. Humans need oxygen, and trees work to use what humans expel, carbon dioxide, and then release oxygen back into the environment. So when these same trees are at risk, it makes sense that people should stand up and pay attention. Two of the major threats to trees come by way of forest fires and deforestation.

Forest fires happen one of two ways. Sometimes, a forest fire is started unintentionally, either by nature or by humans. In both situations, the fire begins to spread quickly, taking out trees, other plant life, and in some cases wildlife. Other times, prescribed forest fires take place. This time, a forest fire is set on purpose to remove trees that are dead or dying that could have the potential to become fuel if a forest fire should start. These dead trees could make an unintentional forest fire even worse. It's an interesting paradox to consider: Forest fires take away something that humans need to survive, but sometimes, tree removal through controlled forest fires can actually help to save a larger group of trees.

Deforestation is the large-scale loss of trees in one particular area. Forest fires are actually a type of deforestation. Sometimes, trees are cut down because of the valuable resources they can provide, like paper or wood. Other times, tree removal takes place because land needs to be cleared to make way for new structures or roads. Either way, losing large amounts of trees has an effect on the environment, decreasing the amount of plants that have the potential to take in carbon dioxide and expel oxygen for humans to use. It is important to note that tree-trimming is not considered to be deforestation because it only takes away a portion of the tree, allowing it to live. Tree-trimming can also help trees to thrive in their current environment.

Protecting trees from unintentional forest fires and deforestation is everyone's responsibility. Each person can be cautious when spending time in the forest by being aware of the potential damage that a fire creates. From making sure that a camping fire is completely put out before leaving a site to keeping up with tree-trimming in a person's yard, everyone can make a difference. For those looking to combat deforestation, something as simple as planting a new tree or purchasing recycled products could help ensure that trees, and the valuable services they provide, are around for many years to come.

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