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Deforestation: Facts, Causes & Effects

Deforestation: Facts, Causes & Effects
Deforestation is the permanent destruction of forests in order to make the land available for other uses. An estimated 18 million acres (7.3 million hectares) of forest, which is roughly the size of the country of Panama, are lost each year, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Some other statistics: About half of the world's tropical forests have been cleared (FAO) Forests currently cover about 30 percent of the world’s land mass (National Geographic) Forest loss contributes between 6 percent and 12 percent of annual global carbon dioxide emissions (Nature Geoscience) About 36 football fields worth of trees lost every minute (World Wildlife Fund (WWF)) Deforestation occurs around the world, though tropical rainforests are particularly targeted. Error loading player: No playable sources found Though deforestation has increased rapidly in the past 50 years, it has been practiced throughout history. Weather vs. 0 of 10 questions complete

Rain Forest Threats, Rain Forest Species More than half of Earth’s rain forests have already been lost forever to the insatiable human demand for wood and arable land. Rain forests that once grew over 14 percent of the land on Earth now cover only about 6 percent. And if current deforestation rates continue, these critical habitats could disappear from the planet completely within the next hundred years. The reasons for plundering rain forests are mainly economic. Wealthy nations drive demand for tropical timber, and cash-strapped governments often grant logging concessions at a fraction of the land’s true value. “Homesteader” policies also encourage citizens to clear-cut forests for farms. Threats Solutions

Why people do slash and burn Deforestation | Threats Forests cover 31% of the land area on our planet. They produce vital oxygen and provide homes for people and wildlife. Many of the world’s most threatened and endangered animals live in forests, and 1.6 billion people rely on benefits forests offer, including food, fresh water, clothing, traditional medicine and shelter. But forests around the world are under threat from deforestation, jeopardizing these benefits. Deforestation comes in many forms, including fires, clear-cutting for agriculture, ranching and development, unsustainable logging for timber, and degradation due to climate change. This impacts people’s livelihoods and threatens a wide range of plant and animal species. Forests play a critical role in mitigating climate change because they act as a carbon sink—soaking up carbon dioxide that would otherwise be free in the atmosphere and contribute to ongoing changes in climate patterns. WWF has been working to protect forests for more than 50 years.