Effects of degradation on people and the environment

People

  • Loss of land for indigenous people.
  • Loss of the traditional way of life for native tribes.
  • Tribes influenced by new technologies, eg guns and radios.
  • Native tribes forced into reservations for their own protection against new developments by foreign companies.
  • Tribes dying of 'Western' diseases eg flu and measles, because of a lack of immunity.
  • Farming systems being altered as there is less land to 'shift' to different plots to practise shifting cultivation.

Environment

Large scale deforestation to make way for a new dam in the Amazon
Large scale deforestation to make way for a new dam in the Amazon

  • Land clearance for farming, transportation and mining causes deforestation. Hardwood trees take many years to grow and they are difficult to replace.
  • Clearing the rainforest threatens the survival of many rare plants and animals as their habitat is destroyed.
  • Fertile but fragile soils that make farming possible are quickly washed away when the trees are cleared.
  • Loss of vital ingredients for life-saving medicines, many of which still remain undiscovered.
  • Increased global warming and climate change because there are fewer trees to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
  • Higher world temperatures cause sea levels to rise, flooding low-lying places, eg the Maldives and the Netherlands.
  • Rainforest areas turning to desert caused by a devastating break in both the water and nutrient cycles.