How does deforestation affect the nutrient cycle in a forest? 

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trophyhunter1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The phosphorus cycle is greatly affected due to deforestation. When trees are removed, soil levels of phosphorus are diminished greatly and this nutrient is vital for plant growth. When shifting from a forest to farmland, the lack of a canopy provided by trees triggers a negative ecosystem balance of phosphorus. Atmospheric carbon has increased since the industrial revolution. Prior to 1800, levels of CO2 were between 275-280 ppm for several thousand years. After this date, it has risen continously since then. This is due to the combustion of fossils fuels to run cars, factories and to generate electricity. By removing trees, less carbon dioxide is taken up via photosynthesis. This increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere leads to global warming as carbon dioxide is a major greenhouse gas. Deforestation causes a decrease in organic nitrogen in an area. Erosion and leaching are culprits. Nitrate production will slow on site and this can negatively impact plant growth. Burning produces nitrogen oxides, which are greenhouse gases. Nitrates eroding from soil and leaching into the water supply can affect the health of the water as well as the health of species that live and depend on that water.

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