Peer Review by Josephine O'Grady (United States)

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Our Tall Friends: Deforestation

By: AprilStorms

    Everyday we see the brown bark and green foliage of trees. But although we are always seeing them, their contributions to life on earth go unnoticed. Trees have become a constant in our lives whether in our backyard or on the set of a preschool play, but most people take for granted the monumental things trees do and what would happen if they suddenly weren't there anymore. Trees are important to humans and all the other living things that call earth home.
    One of my best memories from when I was younger was in trees. Grabbing on to the textured bark and pulling myself into the limb's embrace. There was this one tree: an old oak that lived in a nearby park, that was especially special. This tree's surface was marked up with the carvings and messages of many generations of history. Whenever I went to this park I would always stop to go over to this tree. Pulling myself into the foliage, up and up and up, I would look over the park and with the wind in my hair I would feel like I was on top of the world. There is no feeling quite like hanging onto swaying branches and peeking between leaves at the top of a tree. 
    When I was older I started to notice something that seemed odd to me: some trees in little wooded areas would get marked and then get cut down. This experience opened my eyes to the more expansive topic of deforestation. Deforestation is the act of cutting down trees with the intention of clearing a space. Although the occasional tree being chopped down in my neighborhood was not precisely deforestation it hooked my interest on the pressing problems of deforestation. In many parts of the world there are people cutting down trees to clear an area for a new road or for timber, whatever thier reason it is permanently damaging the wooded areas of the world. The Untied Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), estimates that around 18 million acres of forests are demolished each year. This means that all the trees that could fill up Panama from border to border were cut down to make room for humans. Though the law limits deforestation in most areas, trees are still being chopped down illegally and this causes a growing problem. 
    Trees are not only for nice landscaping and something large and green to look at, they have many important uses. One of the largest arguments against deforestation is because of the wildlife that call those trees home. Many endangered monkey species in Africa live in small pieces of protected forest that are constantly targeted by loggers, people who cut down trees. In fact, deforestation is in the top five causes for species extinction (along with agriculture and habitat fragmentation that are indirectly related to deforestation). Another problem of deforestation, one that directly effects humans as well as woodland animals, is the production of oxygen. Animals breath oxygen in and carbon dioxide (CO2) out; this process is reversed by trees and other plants, they collect the CO2 in the air and release oxygen back to animals. With 30 percent of the land covered in forest it is the largest producer of oxygen on land. However, with deforestation diminishing that percentage it will also diminish the amount of CO2 taken from the air to be replaced by oxygen. These are just two of the things that these large pieces of backyard landscaping do for life on earth. 
    Here are some of the many reasons why trees are both a mental and physical importance on earth. The lack of trees wouldn't only hurt the trees themselves, but also all the other living creatures that call earth home. So now that we know what our tall friends do for us everyday, what will we do for them in return?


Peer Review

The writer does a brilliant job associating the relationship between people and the environment, and other animals, too. She lays down the facts to support her meaning, and accompanies that with her childhood memories of a particular tree that was special to her, which I can relate to. When I read about her memories of that one tree, it made me think of one great old tree at a park near my house that my sister and I used to climb on for long periods of time when we were little. The tree was later cut down, the year I turned 11.

The writer gives readers a chance to really think how trees are important to them by offering her own memories of trees as a kid. It slows us all down, stops us from our lives-- no matter how hectic-- and gives us another chance at not overlooking trees.

The entire piece is structured very nicely, so it's clean in this matter. The heart of this piece is the middle and ending. You have the introduction, then an extra paragraph to sort of pull the reader in a little more, then comes the middle, where the writer writes how she begins to notice the trees in her neighborhood being cut down in small wooded areas. While not seeming like a big problem at first, she soon realizes that it is tied together with a larger problem. So the writer covers the story of herself discovering a smaller problem, then discovering the bigger problem, where she includes more facts to support the text. It is heartbreaking that slowly, humans are wiping out the population of trees one by one. Trees, that are so important to the entire planet's survival. That is what is at the heart of this piece.

I felt like that the ending was a little rushed. You have a great ending line, but the lines before that shouldn't be tight and clean to make a satisfying ending. I'm not sure what you could say in expanding the ending, but think about the heart of the piece, and what message you want to leave the reader with. That always helps me when my ending is rushed.

Reviewer Comments

Nicely done! Through reading this, I recalled many of my own memories of trees, and how I continue to appreciate them today. I will look out for more of your writing, and good luck in the contest!