Opinion Opinion: Ohioans need to make stronger efforts to combat deforestation By Dylanni Smith Posted on March 16, 2017 7 min read 0 1 672 Photo courtesy of Pixabay (public domain) If you have tuned in to a news broadcast or your local newspaper lately, you have most likely watched a segment or read an article about the environment. Whether it be about recycling, saving the bees or protecting ocean life, these topics are everywhere in the media. However, one such environmental topic that does not seem to be getting enough attention is deforestation. The World Counts defines deforestation as the cutting down of trees to clear an area so the land can be used for other purposes such as factories, neighborhoods or farming. It is understandable and completely logical that we need to make room for these necessities that keep society thriving. Without neighborhoods, where would we live? Without agriculture, how would we get crops such as corn and grains? The problem is that there is plenty of already flat, barren land available for these purposes; we just don’t use it. Our selfish actions are not only killing trees by the acre every day, but are also destroying the habitats of thousands of nature’s creatures. According to National Geographic, “Eighty percent of Earth’s land animals and plants live in forests, and many cannot survive the deforestation that destroys their homes.” Imagine a world in which the species you have come to know and love for their beauty and unique qualities are gone, wiped off the face of the planet, never to be seen again. Tigers no longer lounge in the lower branches of trees in the rainforest, birds keep to the sky because they no longer have a home to go back to, and exotic amphibians will no longer amaze us with their ability to camouflage into their every surrounding. It may seem like deforestation only affects areas such as the tropical rainforests of South America, or areas such as the boreal forest in Canada. However, deforestation is having a huge impact in the United States, especially in southern Ohio. According to The Nature Conservatory, forests of old oaks and American chestnut once covered most of what is currently southern and eastern Ohio. However, due to advancements such as the Industrial Revolution of the late 1800s, over 90 percent of these ancient forests were cleared to make room for things such as factories and living areas for workers. Although some progress has been made over the years, only 40 percent of Ohio’s Appalachian area is covered in forestry, compared to the once abundant amount of greenery. This is a concern for the region because many local species, such as the black bear and the bobcat, live in the Appalachian forests. We do not want to lose these animals due to more deforestation. The problem is that 95 percent of Ohio’s forests are privately owned. This means local owners can do what they wish with the trees. However, forests should not be privately owned. The fact that a person can own land, whch in fact does not belong to humans but to thousands of species of plants, animals and insects, is not morally acceptable. What right does one person have to say these species’ homes can be destroyed? Nature is not something we can take away as we please for our own selfish benefits, and state and local officials must pass stronger legislation to protect our forests. Until this legislation is put into place, we need to take great effort in building positive relationships with these local landowners. Although it may be difficult, we as citizens of the Appalachian community need to make the effort in order to save our forests. Other actions we can take to keep Ohio green are to recycle, plant trees within communities, support nonprofit organizations working to eliminate deforestation and speak to local politicians about concerns. You can also visit the owners of these forest areas and voice your opinions directly. If each of us does at least one of these things, we can ensure future generations will enjoy a healthy and green Ohio. The efforts we make today will not only impact Ohio’s forests but help to prevent deforestation worldwide.