Forests And Fens Essay

Length: 4 pages Sources: 4 Subject: Animals Type: Essay Paper: #23474565 Related Topics: Biodiversity, Deforestation, Zoology, Habitat Destruction
Excerpt from Essay :



Forests have long been exploited. They are harvested for their timber, or cleared for agricultural land, both activities being entirely destructive to the ecosystem. The fen exists typically within the forest, and is not usually subject to exploitation until the forest itself is, because the forest acts as a natural barrier for the fen. The destruction of forests for timber is arguably the lesser of the two forms of exploitation, at least in countries with active silviculture programs, as the forests will have the potential to regenerate. However the destruction of forest ecosystems is associated with several negative outcomes. The biodiversity of the forest system is reduced, and this effect is stronger the more forest is cleared. Destruction for agriculture is permanent, which means that the loss of biodiversity is permanent. Endemic and endangered species are rendered extinct, or their numbers reduced (Chediack, 2008).

Fenland is often exploited via draining. Sometimes, the water source is affected by deforestation of the surrounding forest, as might occur after logging. But where a forest has been removed for agriculture, the fenland is frequently drained as well, resulting in the destruction of the ecosystem. In some cases, fenland has been used as a dumping ground for hazardous wastes, for instance when the fen is filled in. Even when this has been done to facilitate agriculture, it ultimately ruins the soil, as an example in England where the filled-in fen was contaminated with heavy metals shows (Breward, 2003).

The benefits of the exploitation of forests and fens is usually economic, and in many cases short-lived. Timber extraction provides a short-run boost in economic activity. This can be sustainable over the long run if the forest is replanted, but old growth forest is not easily replaceable. The forest undergoes a change in composition upon exploitation, from a vibrant old growth forest ecosystem to a more limited second-growth system that exists mainly to service future logging...


When the forest is destroyed for agriculture, this mainly serves to increase food production, though not always in the long run. The increase in food production does have some value, but forests act as carbon sinks, among other benefits. Replacing a carbon sink with, say, meat production is doubly-negative with respect to climate change. It is worth noting as well that a tree plantation of second-growth tree cover, does not have nearly the same level of carbon benefits as an old growth forest ecosystem, so replanting does little to mitigate the negative impacts of deforestation on climate change (Sasaki & Putz, 2009).

There are also negative impacts on food supply, which is ironic where forest is being cleared to support agricultural production. Forests host such diversity of life that they contain leaves, fruits, nuts and roots, all of which have significant untapped nutritional value. Clearing for timber or inefficient agriculture such as meat production actually reduces the amount of global food production capability, according to a UN report (UN, 2011).

Fenland exploitation offers fewer tangible benefits. Such land is often drained to foster agriculture, but the value of wetlands is substantial. Wetlands are critical for drainage of land, and for biodiversity. The exploitation of fenland is destructive with little upside, but the fenland itself is affected when the forest around it is cleared. Nevertheless, there is not much case to be made for draining fens.

Management Plans

The biggest issue with managing fens is that the cessation of exploitation is the only reasonable course of action. Fens are not usually "exploited" -- they are destroyed. Their best use is as parkland, and to remain as wetland to manage water levels and drainage, and to maintain some semblance of biodiversity even if the surrounding forest is cut. Maintaining…

Sources Used in Documents:


Breward, N. (2003). Heavy-metal contaminated soils associated with drained fenland in Lancashire, England, UK, revealed by BGS Soil Geochemical Survey. Applied Geochemistry. Vol. 18 (11) 1663-1670.

Chediack, S. (2008). The effect of forest exploitation on structure, diversity, and floristic composition of palmito-dominated Atlantic forests at Misiones, Argentina. Rev. Bio. Trop. Vol 56 (2) 721-738.

Fredeen, A. (2007) . Climate change and the mountain pine beetle. University of Northern British Columbia. Retrieved April 27, 2015 from

Sasaki, N. & Putz, F. (2009). Critical need for new definitions of forest and forest degradation in global climate change agreements. Conservation Letters. Vol. 2009, 1-7.
UN. (2011). Forests can feed the world's hungry and overexploitation for timber must be curbed. UN News Centre. Retrieved April 27, 2015 from

Cite this Document:

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