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Deforestation is having devastating effects on communities around the world and it can have a large impact on people and wildlife living a long way from the deforestation. Here we look at what deforestation is; what the cause and effects of deforestation are; And we have packed this page with images, facts and information so that you can find out all about deforestation. Read on to find out more.
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Deforestation definition:

Deforestation is when trees are lost and not replanted. Trees are either chopped down or burnt in a fire. This creates land which can be used for farming or settlements. Deforestation leads to increased CO2 emissions which leads to climate change.  


How are trees removed?

  • Chop them down with chainsaws.

  • Chop them down with heavy machinery.

  • Burn the forest down. (Easiest and cheapest option).


Size of problem:

Half of the world's mature tropical forests have already been removed. An estimated 8 million sq km has been chopped down or burnt of the original 16 million sq km. At current rates of deforestation, another 6.5 million sq km will have gone in the next 15 years leaving just 10% of the world's mature forest left.

What is Deforestation?

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Deforestation Facts

  1. Half gone already. Half of the world's mature forests have been removed already.

  2. Only 10% left in 2030. If current deforestation rates continue, another 40% of the world's mature forests will have been removed by 2030 - in 15 years time.

  3. Causes climate change. Burning of forests to remove them has lead to increased CO2 emissions and increased the rate of climate change.

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A farmer chops down trees with

a petrol driven chain saw. 

rainforest facts

Heavy machinery can be used to chop

down trees on a large scale. 

   4.   Deforestation is extremely rapid. An area of

           rainforest the size of a football field is destroyed

           each second.

   5.   In percentage terms: Rainforests used to cover

          14% of the earth but now only cover 6-7%.

   6.   Increased soil erosion. Removing the vegetation

          leads to increased soil erosion. Some areas are

          deforested for farming, the soil is washed away

          by soil erosion and the farmers move on to a new

          part of the forest.


7.    Causes extinction. It is estimated that

        1,000 different species go extinct each

        year and the majority of these

        extinctions take place in rainforests.

8.    Slash and Burn. This is where you set

        fire to the forest to create farm land.

        Slash and Burn occurs so much that the

        smoke from it can be seen from space. 


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The quickest and easiest way to remove a forest is to burn it down. Creates large amounts of CO2.

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Slash and Burn as seen from space. 

Deforestation for plantations

Deforestation -

The Causes

The causes of deforestation are sometimes surprising. They are:


      48%   Subsistence farming

       32%   Commercial farming

       14%   Commercial logging.


  Subsistence farming is when local people start a farm to grow food for themselves or a small amount of produce to sell.

  Commercial farming is large scale farming operations carreid out by big business with large amounts of machinery.

  Logging is the cutting down of wood for use in wood products like furniture and housing. 


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Commercial farming.  One crop grown continuously.  E.g. Palm oil.

rainforest trees
rainforest trees

Commercial logging.    Trees chopped down to make things. e.g. furniture and houses.

Subsistence farming.  Small farms owned by families, growing food to eat or a little to sell. 


Deforestation for farming

Deforestation - The effects

Contributes to global warming.

The deforestation in tropical areas is responsible for 20% of world greenhouse gas emissions. Having forests helps maintain the oxygen/CO2 balance in the atmosphere. A lot of the increase in CO2 emmisions comes from the slash and burn techniques used to remove forests.

Soil erosion

The roots of the trees help bind the soil together and the canopy of the leaves helps protect the soil from the impact of the rain. The roots also absorb water from the soil. Deforestation leads to soil erosion in many places as can be seen here in this photo. 

Soil erosion caused by deforestation.

Deforestation causes more floods.

Changes to the water cycle.

Trees absorb water from the ground and release it into the atmosphere through the process of transpiration. By removing the trees, there is less water being released into the atmosphere and the climate becomes drier. This will lead to an increase in droughts.

An increase in flooding

The deforestation that has occured in Bangladesh is at least partly attributed to the deforestation that has taken place in the Himalaya mountain range. The removal of the trees results in the water cycle being sped up and the water reaching the lower stages of a river system more quickly. 

Loss of biodiversity

A great number of medicines have been discovered after studying the properties of plants and the extincition of plants in forested areas is going to make our futures less healthy, rich and diverse as a result. Also, there is a large loss of habitat for animals and some animals start to become endangered due to the loss of habitat.

Wildlife extinction

It has been estimated that we are losing 137 plant, animal and insect species every day due to rainforest deforestation and that this leads to 50,000 species becoming extinct each year. 

Deforestation leads to animals becoming endangered and extinct.

The eastern lowland gorilla is endangered!

Deforestation leads to loss of habitats

for wildlife.

Why do farmers

cut down the trees?

Deforestation causes great problems for the world as a whole but for families living in the rainforest with no access to well paid jobs, the choices they make face their daily life and aspirations. 

Why do farmers

burn down the trees?

Instead of blaming the farmers, think of solutions that would raise their standards of living without chopping down the trees.

Which forests are most under threat?

Nine out of ten of the most threatened forests are tropical rainforests and all but one of them have lost 90 % of their forest already.


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