No. 1. Beef production is the top driver of deforestation in the world's tropical forests. The forest conversion it generates more than doubles that generated by the production of soy, palm oil, and wood products (the second, third, and fourth biggest drivers) combined.
Who is responsible for cutting down the rainforest?
Three-quarters is driven by agriculture. Beef production is responsible for 41% of deforestation; palm oil and soybeans account for another 18%; and logging for paper and wood across the tropics, another 13%.
Direct causes of deforestation are agricultural expansion, wood extraction (e.g., logging or wood harvest for domestic fuel or charcoal), and infrastructure expansion such as road building and urbanization. Rarely is there a single direct cause for deforestation.
If forests are cleared, or even disturbed, they release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Forest loss and damage is the cause of around 10% of global warming. There's simply no way we can fight the climate crisis if we don't stop deforestation. We need to protect forests now more than ever.
For every patch of land cleared of trees through deforestation, land becomes available for farmers to plant crops and carryout other agricultural practices such as raising livestock. Deforestation allows farmers to practice subsistence agriculture and commercial agriculture as well.
Humans have converted forest to agricultural and urban uses, exploited species, fragmented wildlands, changed the demographic structure of forests, altered habitat, degraded the environment with atmospheric and soil pollutants, introduced exotic pests and competitors, and domesticated favored species.
Deforestation probably originated with the use of fire, and estimates are that 40–50% of the Earth's original forest area has been lost. Some of that loss happened before settled agriculture began, approximately 10,000 years ago, but only in recent decades is there reliable information on rates of deforestation.
Preserving tropical forests helps protect the millions of plant and animal species—many of which have been invaluable to human medicine—that are indigenous to tropical forests and in danger of extinction. Keeping forests intact also helps prevent floods and drought by regulating regional rainfall.
Trees are cut down for many reasons, including building houses and furniture, opening up land for new use, and creating other wood-based resources. This process can damage environments, but the negative effects can be prevented when it is done mindfully with efforts to help restore the environment.
By 2050, some small and middle economy countries may have less than 1% of forest cover. In terms of numbers, the world total may fall to around 2 trillion trees – which may seem adequate, but it's a big reason to worry for future generations.
The numbers are in. In the United States, which contains 8 percent of the world's forests, there are more trees than there were 100 years ago. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), "Forest growth nationally has exceeded harvest since the 1940s.
According to Mongabay, deforestation trends have been higher in the past decade due to a growing demand for several things. As the population grows, so too does the need for more lumber, more fuel, more food, and more space.
95% of global deforestation occurs in the tropics. Brazil and Indonesia alone account for almost half. After long periods of forest clearance in the past, most of today's richest countries are increasing tree cover through afforestation.
That's 6 billion hectares. Today, only 4 billion hectares are left. The world has lost one-third of its forest – an area twice the size of the United States. Only 10% of this was lost in the first half of this period, until 5,000 years ago.
The main cause of deforestation is agriculture (poorly planned infrastructure is emerging as a big threat too) and the main cause of forest degradation is illegal logging. In 2019, the tropics lost close to 30 soccer fields' worth of trees every single minute.
However, there is good news as the rate of forest loss has declined substantially over the past three decades. The annual rate of deforestation was estimated at 10 million hectares between 2015-2020, compared with 12 million during 2010-2015.
The loss of trees and other vegetation can cause climate change, desertification, soil erosion, fewer crops, flooding, increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and a host of problems for indigenous people.
Deforestation messes with the water cycle: Over half the water in rainforests is held within plants. Deforestation causes soil erosion and desertification: According to the UN, desertification is potentially the biggest threat to the world's ecosystems.