World’s tropical forests breathe life on Earth Day
Communities around the globe will pause today to celebrate Earth Day, a day set aside 43 years ago to highlight environmental conservation.
WWF’s Forest and Climate Initiative has compiled these interesting forest and climate related Earth facts in honour of the day and WWF’s commitment, today and every day of the year, to global conservation:
- Forests cover one-third of Earth and breathe life into our world – literally.
- Over 40 percent of the world's oxygen is produced by tropical forests, while forests contribute to the critical balance of oxygen, carbon dioxide and humidity in the air.
- With more than 1.6 billion people – often the world’s most impoverished – directly dependent on forests as a natural resource providing fuel wood, lumber for housing and nourishment, forests are under threat like never before.
- Rates of deforestation remain alarmingly high. An astonishing 5.2 million hectares of forests are lost each year to deforestation and forest degradation – the equivalent of a football pitch/soccer field every second.
- The impact is two-fold – this important resource vanishes and harmful carbon gases are released into the atmosphere. Deforestation and forest degradation account for up to 20% of the world’s carbon gas emissions, more than the global transport industry – all the automobiles, trucks, trains, airplanes and ships in the world.
- The carbon in forests exceeds the amount of carbon currently in the atmosphere. Estimates are that the world’s forests store 289 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon in their biomass alone.
- Forests are home to over 80% of terrestrial biodiversity.
- Deforestation of closed tropical rainforests could account for the loss of as many as 100 species a day.