Temperate Forest Environmental Issues

People can help keep deciduous tree populations thriving.People often marvel at the radiant beauty of deciduous trees that glow with vibrant fall colors. Deciduous forests in temperate climates consist of maples, elms oaks, and other trees that lose their leaves when seasons change. Temperate climates have cold winters, hot summers and average temperatures of 10 Celsius (50 Fahrenheit). These forests can feel the impact of natural forces and human activity that influence the environment in negative ways.

The Cost of Acquiring Lumber

If you cut down trees for a living, you may create conditions that have mild to devastating effects on life in an ecosystem. As NASA reports, "In addition to the species lost when an area is totally deforested, the plants and animals in the fragments of forest that remain also become increasingly vulnerable, sometimes even committed, to extinction." The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Western Ecology Division in Corvallis Oregon reports that slowing deforestation can also help sequester or conserve large amounts of carbon that can lead to environmental warming.

Fire and Pathogen Threats

Parasites and pathogens can have large scale effects on life forms of all types including deciduous forests. For example, the EPA reports that a chestnut blight once "completely restructured North American temperate deciduous forests." Pathogens may also cause the loss of some or all members in a native species. Wildlife recreation and other human activities near forests may lead to fire which could cause pathogen levels in forests to increase.

Climate Change Changes Things

Thirty three percent of the country's land consists of forests. Climate change affects the growth of those forests and can impact their productivity. Warming from higher atmospheric carbon dioxide levels can make growing seasons longer and cause some areas to experience more droughts. Warmer weather may also change the rate at which insect infestations, and cause destructive storms occur. While some forests may recover from these types of problems others may not. Wild fires resulting from warmer weather are also a threat, especially during drought.

Deciduous Forest Facts

In addition to deforestation and overgrazing, agricultural practices have deciduous forests exist around the world. They were also some of the first forests that people converted to agricultural use. Broad leaves on trees in temperate deciduous forests help provide shade for shrubs and other plants on the ground. While a wide variety of animals and birds found homes in these forests, their populations dwindle as humans continue to remove the trees and use the land for other purposes.

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