What is deforestation?Deforestation is the process whereby natural forests are cleared through logging and/or burning, either to use the timber or to replace the area for alternative uses.
What is the extent of deforestation?12-15 million hectares of forest are lost each year, the equivalent of 36 football fields per minute.
What are the effects of deforestation?
- Reduced biodiversity: Deforestation and forest degradation can cause biodiversity to decline. When forest cover is removed, wildlife is deprived of habitat and becomes more vulnerable to hunting. Considering that about 80% of the world's documented species can be found in tropical rainforests, deforestation puts at risk a majority of the Earth’s biodiversity.
- Release of greenhouse gas emissions: Deforestation causes 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Of these, carbon dioxide emissions represent up to one-third of total carbon dioxide emissions released because of human causes. Find out more about climate change and deforestation.
- Disrupted water cycles: As a result of deforestation, trees no longer evaporate groundwater, which can cause the local climate to be much drier.
- Increased soil erosion: Deforestation accelerates rates of soil erosion, by increasing runoff and reducing the protection of the soil from tree litter.
- Disrupted livelihoods: Millions of people rely directly on forests, through small-scale agriculture, hunting and gathering, and by harvesting forest products such as rubber. Deforestation continues to pose severe social problems, sometimes leading to violent conflict.
Mediterranean and tropical montane cloud forests
Observations suggest that tropical montane cloud forests are also highly at risk due to fewer, higher clouds and warmer temperatures, with serious impacts already underway.