Deforestation

Deforestation

Overview
Deforestation is the removal of a forest or stand of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a nonforest use. Examples of deforestation include conversion of forestland to farms, ranches, or urban use.

The term deforestation is often misused to describe any activity where all trees in an area are removed. However in temperate climates, the removal of all trees in an area—in conformance with sustainable forestry practices—is correctly described as regeneration harvest.
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Encyclopedia
Deforestation is the removal of a forest or stand of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a nonforest use. Examples of deforestation include conversion of forestland to farms, ranches, or urban use.

The term deforestation is often misused to describe any activity where all trees in an area are removed. However in temperate climates, the removal of all trees in an area—in conformance with sustainable forestry practices—is correctly described as regeneration harvest. In temperate mesic climates, natural regeneration of forest stands often will not occur in the absence of disturbance, whether natural or anthropogenic. Furthermore, biodiversity after regeneration harvest often mimics that found after natural disturbance, including biodiversity loss after naturally occurring rainforest destruction.

Deforestation occurs for many reasons: trees or derived charcoal
Charcoal
Charcoal is the dark grey residue consisting of carbon, and any remaining ash, obtained by removing water and other volatile constituents from animal and vegetation substances. Charcoal is usually produced by slow pyrolysis, the heating of wood or other substances in the absence of oxygen...

 are used as, or sold, for fuel or as timber, while cleared land is used as pasture
Pasture
Pasture is land used for grazing. Pasture lands in the narrow sense are enclosed tracts of farmland, grazed by domesticated livestock, such as horses, cattle, sheep or swine. The vegetation of tended pasture, forage, consists mainly of grasses, with an interspersion of legumes and other forbs...

 for livestock, plantations of commodities, and settlements. The removal of trees without sufficient reforestation
Reforestation
Reforestation is the natural or intentional restocking of existing forests and woodlands that have been depleted, usually through deforestation....

 has resulted in damage to habitat
Habitat
* Habitat , a place where a species lives and grows*Human habitat, a place where humans live, work or play** Space habitat, a space station intended as a permanent settlement...

, biodiversity
Biodiversity
Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...

 loss and arid
Arid
A region is said to be arid when it is characterized by a severe lack of available water, to the extent of hindering or even preventing the growth and development of plant and animal life...

ity. It has adverse impacts on biosequestration
Biosequestration
Biosequestration is the capture and storage of the atmospheric greenhouse gas carbon dioxide by biological processes.This may be by increased photosynthesis ; by enhanced soil carbon trapping in agriculture; or by the use of algal bio sequestration to absorb the carbon...

 of atmospheric carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom...

. Deforestation has also been used in war
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

 to deprive an enemy of cover for its forces and also vital resources. A modern example of this, for example, was the use of Agent orange
Agent Orange
Agent Orange is the code name for one of the herbicides and defoliants used by the U.S. military as part of its herbicidal warfare program, Operation Ranch Hand, during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1971. Vietnam estimates 400,000 people were killed or maimed, and 500,000 children born with birth...

 in Vietnam. Deforested regions typically incur significant adverse soil erosion and frequently degrade into wasteland.

Disregard or ignorance of intrinsic value, lack of ascribed value, lax forest management and deficient environmental laws are some of the factors that allow deforestation to occur on a large scale. In many countries, deforestation, both naturally occurring and human induced, is an ongoing issue. Deforestation causes extinction
Extinction
In biology and ecology, extinction is the end of an organism or of a group of organisms , normally a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of the species, although the capacity to breed and recover may have been lost before this point...

, changes to climatic conditions, desertification
Desertification
Desertification is the degradation of land in drylands. Caused by a variety of factors, such as climate change and human activities, desertification is one of the most significant global environmental problems.-Definitions:...

, and displacement of populations as observed by current conditions and in the past through the fossil record.

Among countries with a per capita GDP
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

 of at least US$4,600, net deforestation rates have ceased to increase.

Causes


There are many causes of contemporary deforestation, including corruption
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

 of government institutions, the inequitable
International inequality
International inequality is inequality between countries . Economic differences between rich and poor countries are considerable...

 distribution of wealth and power, population growth
Population growth
Population growth is the change in a population over time, and can be quantified as the change in the number of individuals of any species in a population using "per unit time" for measurement....

 and overpopulation
Overpopulation
Overpopulation is a condition where an organism's numbers exceed the carrying capacity of its habitat. The term often refers to the relationship between the human population and its environment, the Earth...

, and urbanization
Urbanization
Urbanization, urbanisation or urban drift is the physical growth of urban areas as a result of global change. The United Nations projected that half of the world's population would live in urban areas at the end of 2008....

. Globalization
Globalization
Globalization refers to the increasingly global relationships of culture, people and economic activity. Most often, it refers to economics: the global distribution of the production of goods and services, through reduction of barriers to international trade such as tariffs, export fees, and import...

 is often viewed as another root cause of deforestation, though there are cases in which the impacts of globalization (new flows of labor, capital, commodities, and ideas) have promoted localized forest recovery.

In 2000 the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization
Food and Agriculture Organization
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is a specialised agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and...

 (FAO) found that "the role of population dynamics in a local setting may vary from decisive to negligible," and that deforestation can result from "a combination of population pressure and stagnating economic, social and technological conditions."

According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat, the overwhelming direct cause of deforestation is agriculture. Subsistence farming is responsible for 48% of deforestation; commercial agriculture is responsible for 32% of deforestation; logging is responsible for 14% of deforestation and fuel wood removals make up 5% of deforestation.

The degradation of forest ecosystems has also been traced to economic incentives that make forest conversion appear more profitable than forest conservation. Many important forest functions have no markets, and hence, no economic value that is readily apparent to the forests' owners or the communities that rely on forests for their well-being. From the perspective of the developing world, the benefits of forest as carbon sinks or biodiversity reserves go primarily to richer developed nations and there is insufficient compensation for these services. Developing countries feel that some countries in the developed world, such as the United States of America, cut down their forests centuries ago and benefited greatly from this deforestation, and that it is hypocritical to deny developing countries the same opportunities: that the poor shouldn't have to bear the cost of preservation when the rich created the problem.

Experts do not agree on whether industrial logging is an important contributor to global deforestation. Some argue that poor people are more likely to clear forest because they have no alternatives, others that the poor lack the ability to pay for the materials and labour needed to clear forest. One study found that population increases due to high fertility rates were a primary driver of tropical deforestation in only 8% of cases.

Some commentators have noted a shift in the drivers of deforestation over the past 30 years. Whereas deforestation was primarily driven by subsistence activities and government-sponsored development projects like transmigration
Transmigration program
The transmigration program was an initiative of the Dutch colonial government, and later continued by Indonesian government to move landless people from densely populated areas of Indonesia to less populous areas of the country...

 in countries like Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

 and colonization in Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Java
Java
Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

, and so on, during late 19th century and the earlier half of the 20th century. By the 1990s the majority of deforestation was caused by industrial factors, including extractive industries, large-scale cattle ranching, and extensive agriculture.

Atmospheric


Deforestation is ongoing and is shaping climate
Climate
Climate encompasses the statistics of temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, rainfall, atmospheric particle count and other meteorological elemental measurements in a given region over long periods...

 and geography
Geography
Geography is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes...

.

Deforestation is a contributor to global warming
Global warming
Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades...

, and is often cited as one of the major causes of the enhanced greenhouse effect
Greenhouse effect
The greenhouse effect is a process by which thermal radiation from a planetary surface is absorbed by atmospheric greenhouse gases, and is re-radiated in all directions. Since part of this re-radiation is back towards the surface, energy is transferred to the surface and the lower atmosphere...

. Tropical deforestation is responsible for approximately 20% of world greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a scientific intergovernmental body which provides comprehensive assessments of current scientific, technical and socio-economic information worldwide about the risk of climate change caused by human activity, its potential environmental and...

 deforestation, mainly in tropical areas, could account for up to one-third of total anthropogenic carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom...

 emissions. But recent calculations suggest that carbon dioxide emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (excluding peatland emissions) contribute about 12% of total anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions with a range from 6 to 17%. Trees and other plants remove carbon
Carbon
Carbon is the chemical element with symbol C and atomic number 6. As a member of group 14 on the periodic table, it is nonmetallic and tetravalent—making four electrons available to form covalent chemical bonds...

 (in the form of carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom...

) from the atmosphere
Earth's atmosphere
The atmosphere of Earth is a layer of gases surrounding the planet Earth that is retained by Earth's gravity. The atmosphere protects life on Earth by absorbing ultraviolet solar radiation, warming the surface through heat retention , and reducing temperature extremes between day and night...

 during the process of photosynthesis
Photosynthesis
Photosynthesis is a chemical process that converts carbon dioxide into organic compounds, especially sugars, using the energy from sunlight. Photosynthesis occurs in plants, algae, and many species of bacteria, but not in archaea. Photosynthetic organisms are called photoautotrophs, since they can...

 and release oxygen back into the atmosphere during normal respiration. Only when actively growing can a tree or forest remove carbon over an annual or longer timeframe. Both the decay and burning of wood releases much of this stored carbon back to the atmosphere. In order for forests to take up carbon, the wood must be harvested and turned into long-lived products and trees must be re-planted. Deforestation may cause carbon stores held in soil to be released. Forests are stores of carbon and can be either sinks or sources depending upon environmental circumstances. Mature forests alternate between being net sinks and net sources of carbon dioxide (see carbon dioxide sink
Carbon dioxide sink
A carbon sink is a natural or artificial reservoir that accumulates and stores some carbon-containing chemical compound for an indefinite period. The process by which carbon sinks remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is known as carbon sequestration...

 and carbon cycle
Carbon cycle
The carbon cycle is the biogeochemical cycle by which carbon is exchanged among the biosphere, pedosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere of the Earth...

). In deforested areas, the land heats up faster and reaches a higher temperature, leading to localized upward motions that enhance the formation of clouds and ultimately produce more rainfall. However, according to the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, the models used to investigate remote responses to tropical deforestation showed a broad but mild temperature increase all through the tropical atmosphere. The model predicted <0.2°C warming for upper air at 700mb and 500mb. However, the model shows no significant changes in other areas besides the Tropics. Though the model showed no significant changes to the climate in areas other than the Tropics, this may not be the case since the model has possible errors and the results are never absolutely definite.

Reducing emissions from the tropical deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) in developing countries has emerged as new potential to complement ongoing climate policies. The idea consists in providing financial compensations for the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from deforestation and forest degradation".

Rainforests are widely believed by laymen to contribute a significant amount of world's oxygen, although it is now accepted by scientists that rainforests contribute little net oxygen
Oxygen
Oxygen is the element with atomic number 8 and represented by the symbol O. Its name derives from the Greek roots ὀξύς and -γενής , because at the time of naming, it was mistakenly thought that all acids required oxygen in their composition...

 to the atmosphere
Earth's atmosphere
The atmosphere of Earth is a layer of gases surrounding the planet Earth that is retained by Earth's gravity. The atmosphere protects life on Earth by absorbing ultraviolet solar radiation, warming the surface through heat retention , and reducing temperature extremes between day and night...

 and deforestation will have no effect on atmospheric oxygen levels. However, the incineration and burning of forest plants to clear land releases large amounts of CO2, which contributes to global warming. Scientists also state that, Tropical deforestation releases 1.5 billion tones of carbon each year into the atmosphere.

Forests are also able to extract carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom...

 and pollutant
Pollutant
A pollutant is a waste material that pollutes air, water or soil, and is the cause of pollution.Three factors determine the severity of a pollutant: its chemical nature, its concentration and its persistence. Some pollutants are biodegradable and therefore will not persist in the environment in the...

s from the air, thus contributing to biosphere stability.

Hydrological


The water cycle is also affected by deforestation. Trees extract groundwater through their roots and release it into the atmosphere. When part of a forest is removed, the trees no longer evaporate away this water, resulting in a much drier climate. Deforestation reduces the content of water in the soil and groundwater as well as atmospheric moisture. The dry soil leads to lower water intake for the trees to extract. Deforestation reduces soil cohesion, so that erosion, flooding and landslide
Landslide
A landslide or landslip is a geological phenomenon which includes a wide range of ground movement, such as rockfalls, deep failure of slopes and shallow debris flows, which can occur in offshore, coastal and onshore environments...

s ensue.

Shrinking forest cover lessens the landscape's capacity to intercept, retain and transpire
Transpiration
Transpiration is a process similar to evaporation. It is a part of the water cycle, and it is the loss of water vapor from parts of plants , especially in leaves but also in stems, flowers and roots. Leaf surfaces are dotted with openings which are collectively called stomata, and in most plants...

 precipitation. Instead of trapping precipitation, which then percolates to groundwater systems, deforested areas become sources of surface water runoff, which moves much faster than subsurface flows. That quicker transport of surface water can translate into flash flood
Flash flood
A flash flood is a rapid flooding of geomorphic low-lying areas—washes, rivers, dry lakes and basins. It may be caused by heavy rain associated with a storm, hurricane, or tropical storm or meltwater from ice or snow flowing over ice sheets or snowfields...

ing and more localized floods than would occur with the forest cover. Deforestation also contributes to decreased evapotranspiration
Evapotranspiration
Evapotranspiration is a term used to describe the sum of evaporation and plant transpiration from the Earth's land surface to atmosphere. Evaporation accounts for the movement of water to the air from sources such as the soil, canopy interception, and waterbodies...

, which lessens atmospheric moisture which in some cases affects precipitation levels downwind from the deforested area, as water is not recycled to downwind forests, but is lost in runoff and returns directly to the oceans. According to one study, in deforested north and northwest China, the average annual precipitation decreased by one third between the 1950s and the 1980s.

Trees, and plants in general, affect the water cycle
Water cycle
The water cycle, also known as the hydrologic cycle or H2O cycle, describes the continuous movement of water on, above and below the surface of the Earth. Water can change states among liquid, vapor, and solid at various places in the water cycle...

 significantly:
  • their canopies intercept a proportion of precipitation
    Precipitation (meteorology)
    In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation (also known as one of the classes of hydrometeors, which are atmospheric water phenomena is any product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapor that falls under gravity. The main forms of precipitation...

    , which is then evaporated back to the atmosphere (canopy interception
    Interception (water)
    Interception refers to precipitation that does not reach the soil, but is instead intercepted by the leaves and branches of plants and the forest floor. It occurs in the canopy , and in the forest floor or litter layer...

    );
  • their litter, stems and trunks slow down surface runoff
    Surface runoff
    Surface runoff is the water flow that occurs when soil is infiltrated to full capacity and excess water from rain, meltwater, or other sources flows over the land. This is a major component of the water cycle. Runoff that occurs on surfaces before reaching a channel is also called a nonpoint source...

    ;
  • their roots create macropore
    Macropore
    In soil, macropores are defined as cavities that are larger than 75 μm. Functionally, pores of this size host preferential soil solution flow and rapid transport of solutes and colloids. Macropores increase the hydraulic conductivity of soil, allowing water to infiltrate and drain quickly,...

    s – large conduits – in the soil that increase infiltration
    Infiltration (hydrology)
    Infiltration is the process by which water on the ground surface enters the soil. Infiltration rate in soil science is a measure of the rate at which soil is able to absorb rainfall or irrigation. It is measured in inches per hour or millimeters per hour. The rate decreases as the soil becomes...

     of water;
  • they contribute to terrestrial evaporation and reduce soil moisture
    Water content
    Water content or moisture content is the quantity of water contained in a material, such as soil , rock, ceramics, fruit, or wood. Water content is used in a wide range of scientific and technical areas, and is expressed as a ratio, which can range from 0 to the value of the materials' porosity at...

     via transpiration
    Transpiration
    Transpiration is a process similar to evaporation. It is a part of the water cycle, and it is the loss of water vapor from parts of plants , especially in leaves but also in stems, flowers and roots. Leaf surfaces are dotted with openings which are collectively called stomata, and in most plants...

    ;
  • their litter
    Plant litter
    Plant litter, leaf litter or tree litter is dead plant material, such as leaves, bark, needles, and twigs, that has fallen to the ground. Litter provides habitat for small animals, fungi, and plants, and the material may be used to construct nests. As litter decomposes, nutrients are released to...

     and other organic residue change soil properties that affect the capacity of soil to store water.
  • their leaves control the humidity
    Humidity
    Humidity is a term for the amount of water vapor in the air, and can refer to any one of several measurements of humidity. Formally, humid air is not "moist air" but a mixture of water vapor and other constituents of air, and humidity is defined in terms of the water content of this mixture,...

     of the atmosphere by transpiring
    Transpiration
    Transpiration is a process similar to evaporation. It is a part of the water cycle, and it is the loss of water vapor from parts of plants , especially in leaves but also in stems, flowers and roots. Leaf surfaces are dotted with openings which are collectively called stomata, and in most plants...

    . 99% of the water absorbed by the roots moves up to the leaves and is transpired.

As a result, the presence or absence of trees can change the quantity of water on the surface, in the soil or groundwater, or in the atmosphere. This in turn changes erosion rates and the availability of water for either ecosystem functions or human services.

The forest may have little impact on flooding in the case of large rainfall events, which overwhelm the storage capacity of forest soil if the soils are at or close to saturation.

Tropical rainforest
Tropical rainforest
A tropical rainforest is an ecosystem type that occurs roughly within the latitudes 28 degrees north or south of the equator . This ecosystem experiences high average temperatures and a significant amount of rainfall...

s produce about 30% of our planet's fresh water.

Soil



Undisturbed forests have a very low rate of soil
Soil
Soil is a natural body consisting of layers of mineral constituents of variable thicknesses, which differ from the parent materials in their morphological, physical, chemical, and mineralogical characteristics...

 loss, approximately 2 metric ton
Ton
The ton is a unit of measure. It has a long history and has acquired a number of meanings and uses over the years. It is used principally as a unit of weight, and as a unit of volume. It can also be used as a measure of energy, for truck classification, or as a colloquial term.It is derived from...

s per square kilometer (6 short tons per square mile). Deforestation generally increases rates of soil erosion
Erosion
Erosion is when materials are removed from the surface and changed into something else. It only works by hydraulic actions and transport of solids in the natural environment, and leads to the deposition of these materials elsewhere...

, by increasing the amount of runoff
Surface runoff
Surface runoff is the water flow that occurs when soil is infiltrated to full capacity and excess water from rain, meltwater, or other sources flows over the land. This is a major component of the water cycle. Runoff that occurs on surfaces before reaching a channel is also called a nonpoint source...

 and reducing the protection of the soil from tree litter. This can be an advantage in excessively leached tropical rain forest soils. Forestry operations themselves also increase erosion through the development of roads and the use of mechanized equipment.

China's Loess Plateau
Loess Plateau
The Loess Plateau , also known as the Huangtu Plateau, is a plateau that covers an area of some 640,000 km² in the upper and middle reaches of China's Yellow River. Loess is the name for the silty sediment that has been deposited by wind storms on the plateau over the ages...

 was cleared of forest millennia ago. Since then it has been eroding, creating dramatic incised valleys, and providing the sediment that gives the Yellow River its yellow color and that causes the flooding of the river in the lower reaches (hence the river's nickname 'China's sorrow').

Removal of trees does not always increase erosion rates. In certain regions of southwest US, shrubs and trees have been encroaching on grassland. The trees themselves enhance the loss of grass between tree canopies. The bare intercanopy areas become highly erodible. The US Forest Service, in Bandelier National Monument for example, is studying how to restore the former ecosystem, and reduce erosion, by removing the trees.

Tree roots bind soil together, and if the soil is sufficiently shallow they act to keep the soil in place by also binding with underlying bedrock
Bedrock
In stratigraphy, bedrock is the native consolidated rock underlying the surface of a terrestrial planet, usually the Earth. Above the bedrock is usually an area of broken and weathered unconsolidated rock in the basal subsoil...

. Tree removal on steep slopes with shallow soil thus increases the risk of landslide
Landslide
A landslide or landslip is a geological phenomenon which includes a wide range of ground movement, such as rockfalls, deep failure of slopes and shallow debris flows, which can occur in offshore, coastal and onshore environments...

s, which can threaten people living nearby. However most deforestation only affects the trunks of trees, allowing for the roots to stay rooted, negating the landslide.

Biodiversity


Deforestation on a human scale results in decline in biodiversity. and on a natural global scale is known to cause the extinction of many species. The removal or destruction of areas of forest cover has resulted in a degraded environment with reduced biodiversity
Biodiversity
Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...

. Forests support biodiversity, providing habitat for wildlife
Wildlife
Wildlife includes all non-domesticated plants, animals and other organisms. Domesticating wild plant and animal species for human benefit has occurred many times all over the planet, and has a major impact on the environment, both positive and negative....

; moreover, forests foster medicinal conservation. With forest biotopes being irreplaceable source of new drugs (such as taxol
Paclitaxel
Paclitaxel is a mitotic inhibitor used in cancer chemotherapy. It was discovered in a U.S. National Cancer Institute program at the Research Triangle Institute in 1967 when Monroe E. Wall and Mansukh C. Wani isolated it from the bark of the Pacific yew tree, Taxus brevifolia and named it taxol...

), deforestation can destroy genetic
Genetics
Genetics , a discipline of biology, is the science of genes, heredity, and variation in living organisms....

 variations (such as crop resistance) irretrievably.

Since the tropical rainforests are the most diverse ecosystem
Ecosystem
An ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the organisms living in a particular area, as well as all the nonliving , physical components of the environment with which the organisms interact, such as air, soil, water and sunlight....

s on Earth and about 80% of the world's known biodiversity
Biodiversity
Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...

 could be found in tropical rainforests, removal or destruction of significant areas of forest cover has resulted in a degraded environment with reduced biodiversity.

It has been estimated that we are losing 137 plant, animal and insect species every single day due to rainforest deforestation, which equates to 50,000 species a year. Others state that tropical rainforest deforestation is contributing to the ongoing Holocene mass extinction. The known extinction rates from deforestation rates are very low, approximately 1 species per year from mammals and birds which extrapolates to approximately 23,000 species per year for all species. Predictions have been made that more than 40% of the animal and plant species
Flora
Flora is the plant life occurring in a particular region or time, generally the naturally occurring or indigenous—native plant life. The corresponding term for animals is fauna.-Etymology:...

 in Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

 could be wiped out in the 21st century. Such predictions were called into question by 1995 data that show that within regions of Southeast Asia much of the original forest has been converted to monospecific plantations, but that potentially endangered species are few and tree flora remains widespread and stable.

Scientific understanding of the process of extinction is insufficient to accurately make predictions about the impact of deforestation on biodiversity. Most predictions of forestry related biodiversity loss are based on species-area models, with an underlying assumption that as the forest declines species diversity will decline similarly. However, many such models have been proven to be wrong and loss of habitat does not necessarily lead to large scale loss of species. Species-area models are known to overpredict the number of species known to be threatened in areas where actual deforestation is ongoing, and greatly overpredict the number of threatened species that are widespread.

Economic impact


Damage to forests and other aspects of nature could halve living standards for the world's poor
Poverty
Poverty is the lack of a certain amount of material possessions or money. Absolute poverty or destitution is inability to afford basic human needs, which commonly includes clean and fresh water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter. About 1.7 billion people are estimated to live...

 and reduce global GDP by about 7% by 2050, a report concluded at the Convention on Biological Diversity
Convention on Biological Diversity
The Convention on Biological Diversity , known informally as the Biodiversity Convention, is an international legally binding treaty...

 (CBD) meeting in Bonn. Historically, utilization of forest products, including timber and fuel wood, has played a key role in human societies, comparable to the roles of water and cultivable land. Today, developed countries continue to utilize timber for building houses, and wood pulp for paper
Paper
Paper is a thin material mainly used for writing upon, printing upon, drawing or for packaging. It is produced by pressing together moist fibers, typically cellulose pulp derived from wood, rags or grasses, and drying them into flexible sheets....

. In developing countries almost three billion people rely on wood for heating and cooking.

The forest products industry is a large part of the economy in both developed and developing countries. Short-term economic gains made by conversion of forest to agriculture, or over-exploitation of wood products, typically leads to loss of long-term income and long-term biological productivity. West Africa
West Africa
West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:-Flags of West Africa:...

, Madagascar
Madagascar
The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...

, Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

 and many other regions have experienced lower revenue because of declining timber harvests. Illegal logging causes billions of dollars of losses to national economies annually.

The new procedures to get amounts of wood are causing more harm to the economy and overpower the amount of money spent by people employed in logging. According to a study, "in most areas studied, the various ventures that prompted deforestation rarely generated more than US$5 for every ton of carbon they released and frequently returned far less than US$1". The price on the European market for an offset tied to a one-ton reduction in carbon is 23 euro
Euro
The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...

 (about US$35).

Rapidly growing economies also have an effect on deforestation. Most pressure will come from the world's developing countries, which have the fastest-growing populations and most rapid economic (industrial) growth. In 1995, economic growth in developing countries reached nearly 6%, compared with the 2% growth rate for developed countries.” As our population grows, new homes, communities, and expansions of cities will occur. Connecting all of the new expansions will be roads, a very important part in our daily life. Rural roads promote economic development but also facilitate deforestation. About 90% of the deforestation has occurred within 100 km of roads in most parts of the Amazon.

Forest transition theory



The forest area change may follow a pattern suggested by the forest transition
Forest transition
Forest transition refers to a geographic theory describing a reversal or turnaround in land-use trends for a given territory from a period of net forest area loss to a period of net forest area gain....

 (FT) theory, whereby at early stages in its development a country is characterized by high forest cover and low deforestation rates (HFLD countries).

Then deforestation rates accelerate (HFHD, high forest cover – high deforestation rate), and forest cover is reduced (LFHD. low forest cover – high deforestation rate), before the deforestation rate slows (LFLD, low forest cover – low deforestation rate), after which forest cover stabilizes and eventually starts recovering. FT is not a “law of nature,” and the pattern is influenced by national context (for example, human population density, stage of development, structure of the economy), global economic forces, and government policies. A country may reach very low levels of forest cover before it stabilizes, or it might through good policies be able to “bridge” the forest transition.

FT depicts a broad trend, and an extrapolation of historical rates therefore tends to underestimate future BAU deforestation for counties at the early stages in the transition (HFLD), while it tends to overestimate BAU deforestation for countries at the later stages (LFHD and LFLD).

Countries with high forest cover can be expected to be at early stages of the FT. GDP per capita captures the stage in a country’s economic development, which is linked to the pattern of natural resource use, including forests. The choice of forest cover and GDP per capita also fits well with the two key scenarios in the FT:

(i) a forest scarcity path, where forest scarcity triggers forces (for example, higher prices of forest products) that lead to forest cover stabilization; and

(ii) an economic development path, where new and better off-farm employment opportunities associated with economic growth (= increasing GDP per capita) reduce profitability of frontier agriculture and slows deforestation.

Prehistory


The Carboniferous Rainforest Collapse
Carboniferous Rainforest Collapse
The Carboniferous Rainforest Collapse was an extinction event that occurred around 305 million years ago in the Carboniferous period). Vast coal forests covered the equatorial region of Euramerica...

, was an event that occurred 300 million years ago. Climate change devastated tropical rainforests causing the extinction of many plant and animal species. The change was abrupt, specifically, at this time climate became cooler and drier, conditions that are not favourable to the growth of rainforests and much of the biodiversity within them. Rainforests were fragmented forming shrinking 'islands' further and further apart. This sudden collapse affected several large groups, effects on amphibians were particularly devastating, while reptiles fared better, being ecologically adapted to the drier conditions that followed.


Rainforests once covered 14% of the earth's land surface; now they cover a mere 6% and experts estimate that the last remaining rainforests could be consumed in less than 40 years.
Small scale deforestation was practiced by some societies for tens of thousands of years before the beginnings of civilization. The first evidence of deforestation appears in the Mesolithic period. It was probably used to convert closed forests into more open ecosystems favourable to game animals. With the advent of agriculture, larger areas began to be deforested, and fire became the prime tool to clear land for crops. In Europe there is little solid evidence before 7000 BC. Mesolithic foragers
Hunter-gatherer
A hunter-gatherer or forage society is one in which most or all food is obtained from wild plants and animals, in contrast to agricultural societies which rely mainly on domesticated species. Hunting and gathering was the ancestral subsistence mode of Homo, and all modern humans were...

 used fire to create openings for red deer
Red Deer
The red deer is one of the largest deer species. Depending on taxonomy, the red deer inhabits most of Europe, the Caucasus Mountains region, Asia Minor, parts of western Asia, and central Asia. It also inhabits the Atlas Mountains region between Morocco and Tunisia in northwestern Africa, being...

 and wild boar. In Great Britain, shade-tolerant species such as oak
Oak
An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus , of which about 600 species exist. "Oak" may also appear in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus...

 and ash
Ash tree
Fraxinus is a genus flowering plants in the olive and lilac family, Oleaceae. It contains 45-65 species of usually medium to large trees, mostly deciduous though a few subtropical species are evergreen. The tree's common English name, ash, goes back to the Old English æsc, while the generic name...

 are replaced in the pollen record
Palynology
Palynology is the science that studies contemporary and fossil palynomorphs, including pollen, spores, orbicules, dinoflagellate cysts, acritarchs, chitinozoans and scolecodonts, together with particulate organic matter and kerogen found in sedimentary rocks and sediments...

 by hazel
Hazel
The hazels are a genus of deciduous trees and large shrubs native to the temperate northern hemisphere. The genus is usually placed in the birch family Betulaceae, though some botanists split the hazels into a separate family Corylaceae.They have simple, rounded leaves with double-serrate margins...

s, brambles, grasses and nettles. Removal of the forests led to decreased transpiration
Transpiration
Transpiration is a process similar to evaporation. It is a part of the water cycle, and it is the loss of water vapor from parts of plants , especially in leaves but also in stems, flowers and roots. Leaf surfaces are dotted with openings which are collectively called stomata, and in most plants...

, resulting in the formation of upland peat bogs. Widespread decrease in elm
Elm
Elms are deciduous and semi-deciduous trees comprising the genus Ulmus in the plant family Ulmaceae. The dozens of species are found in temperate and tropical-montane regions of North America and Eurasia, ranging southward into Indonesia. Elms are components of many kinds of natural forests...

 pollen
Pollen
Pollen is a fine to coarse powder containing the microgametophytes of seed plants, which produce the male gametes . Pollen grains have a hard coat that protects the sperm cells during the process of their movement from the stamens to the pistil of flowering plants or from the male cone to the...

 across Europe between 8400–8300 BC and 7200–7000 BC, starting in southern Europe and gradually moving north to Great Britain, may represent land clearing by fire at the onset of Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 agriculture.

The Neolithic period saw extensive deforestation for farming land
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

. Stone axes were being made from about 3000 BC not just from flint, but from a wide variety of hard rocks from across Britain and North America as well. They include the noted Langdale axe industry
Langdale axe industry
The Langdale axe industry is the name given by archaeologists to the centre of a specialised stone tool manufacturing at Great Langdale in England's Lake District during the Neolithic period .The area has outcrops of fine-grained greenstone suitable for making polished axes which have been...

 in the English Lake District, quarries developed at Penmaenmawr
Penmaenmawr
PenmaenmawrConwyPenmaenmawr is a town in the parish of Dwygyfylchi, in Conwy County Borough, Wales. The population was 3857 in 2001. It is a quarrying town, though the latter is no longer a major employer, on the North Wales coast between Conwy and Llanfairfechan.The town was bypassed by the A55...

 in North Wales
North Wales
North Wales is the northernmost unofficial region of Wales. It is bordered to the south by the counties of Ceredigion and Powys in Mid Wales and to the east by the counties of Shropshire in the West Midlands and Cheshire in North West England...

 and numerous other locations. Rough-outs were made locally near the quarries, and some were polished locally to give a fine finish. This step not only increased the mechanical strength of the axe, but also made penetration of wood easier. Flint
Flint
Flint is a hard, sedimentary cryptocrystalline form of the mineral quartz, categorized as a variety of chert. It occurs chiefly as nodules and masses in sedimentary rocks, such as chalks and limestones. Inside the nodule, flint is usually dark grey, black, green, white, or brown in colour, and...

 was still used from sources such as Grimes Graves
Grimes Graves
Grime's Graves is a large Neolithic flint mining complex near Brandon in England close to the border between Norfolk and Suffolk. It was worked between around circa 3000 BC and circa 1900 BC, although production may have continued well into the Bronze and Iron Ages owing to the low cost of flint...

 but from many other mines across Europe.

Evidence of deforestation has been found in Minoan
Minoan civilization
The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that arose on the island of Crete and flourished from approximately the 27th century BC to the 15th century BC. It was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of the British archaeologist Arthur Evans...

 Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

; for example the environs of the Palace of Knossos were severely deforested in the Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

.

Pre-industrial history


Throughout most of history, humans were hunter gatherers who hunted within forests. In most areas, such as the Amazon
Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon Rainforest , also known in English as Amazonia or the Amazon Jungle, is a moist broadleaf forest that covers most of the Amazon Basin of South America...

, the tropics, Central America, and the Caribbean, only after shortages of wood and other forest products occur are policies implemented to ensure forest resources are used in a sustainable manner.

In ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

, Tjeered van Andel and co-writers summarized three regional studies of historic erosion and alluviation and found that, wherever adequate evidence exists, a major phase of erosion follows, by about 500-1,000 years the introduction of farming in the various regions of Greece, ranging from the later Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age. The thousand years following the mid-first millennium BCE saw serious, intermittent pulses of soil erosion in numerous places. The historic silting of ports along the southern coasts of Asia Minor
Asia Minor
Asia Minor is a geographical location at the westernmost protrusion of Asia, also called Anatolia, and corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of Turkey...

 (e.g. Clarus
Clarus
Clarus in the territory of Colophon in the Ionian coast of Asia Minor was a much-revered, much-famed cult center described by Pausanias ....

, and the examples of Ephesus
Ephesus
Ephesus was an ancient Greek city, and later a major Roman city, on the west coast of Asia Minor, near present-day Selçuk, Izmir Province, Turkey. It was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek era...

, Priene
Priene
Priene was an ancient Greek city of Ionia at the base of an escarpment of Mycale, about north of the then course of the Maeander River, from today's Aydin, from today's Söke and from ancient Miletus...

 and Miletus
Miletus
Miletus was an ancient Greek city on the western coast of Anatolia , near the mouth of the Maeander River in ancient Caria...

, where harbors had to be abandoned because of the silt deposited by the Meander) and in coastal Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 during the last centuries BC.

Easter Island
Easter Island
Easter Island is a Polynesian island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian triangle. A special territory of Chile that was annexed in 1888, Easter Island is famous for its 887 extant monumental statues, called moai, created by the early Rapanui people...

 has suffered from heavy soil erosion in recent centuries, aggravated by agriculture and deforestation. Jared Diamond
Jared Diamond
Jared Mason Diamond is an American scientist and author whose work draws from a variety of fields. He is currently Professor of Geography and Physiology at UCLA...

 gives an extensive look into the collapse of the ancient Easter Islanders in his book Collapse
Collapse (book)
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed is a 2005 book by Jared M. Diamond, professor of geography and physiology at University of California, Los Angeles...

. The disappearance of the island's trees seems to coincide with a decline of its civilization around the 17th and 18th century. He attributed the collapse to deforestation and over-exploitation of all resources.

The famous silting up of the harbor for Bruges
Bruges
Bruges is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium. It is located in the northwest of the country....

, which moved port commerce to Antwerp, also followed a period of increased settlement growth (and apparently of deforestation) in the upper river basins. In early medieval Riez
Riez
Riez is a commune in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department in southeastern France.-Geography:The densely-built village sits where two small rivers join—the Auvestre and the Colostre—in a glacially-widened valley.-Population:-Economy:...

 in upper Provence
Provence
Provence ; Provençal: Provença in classical norm or Prouvènço in Mistralian norm) is a region of south eastern France on the Mediterranean adjacent to Italy. It is part of the administrative région of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur...

, alluvial silt from two small rivers raised the riverbeds and widened the floodplain, which slowly buried the Roman settlement in alluvium and gradually moved new construction to higher ground; concurrently the headwater valleys above Riez were being opened to pasturage.

A typical progress trap
Progress trap
A progress trap is the condition human societies experience when, in pursuing progress through human ingenuity, they inadvertently introduce problems they do not have the resources or political will to solve, for fear of short-term losses in status, stability or quality of life...

 was that cities were often built in a forested area, which would provide wood for some industry (for example, construction, shipbuilding, pottery). When deforestation occurs without proper replanting, however; local wood supplies become difficult to obtain near enough to remain competitive, leading to the city's abandonment, as happened repeatedly in Ancient Asia Minor
Asia Minor
Asia Minor is a geographical location at the westernmost protrusion of Asia, also called Anatolia, and corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of Turkey...

. Because of fuel needs, mining and metallurgy often led to deforestation and city abandonment.

With most of the population remaining active in (or indirectly dependent on) the agricultural sector, the main pressure in most areas remained land clearing for crop and cattle farming. Enough wild green was usually left standing (and partially used, for example, to collect firewood, timber and fruits, or to graze pigs) for wildlife to remain viable. The elite's (nobility and higher clergy) protection of their own hunting privileges and game often protected significant woodlands.

Major parts in the spread (and thus more durable growth) of the population were played by monastical 'pioneering' (especially by the Benedictine
Benedictine
Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

 and Commercial
Commerce
While business refers to the value-creating activities of an organization for profit, commerce means the whole system of an economy that constitutes an environment for business. The system includes legal, economic, political, social, cultural, and technological systems that are in operation in any...

 orders) and some feudal lords' recruiting farmers to settle (and become tax payers) by offering relatively good legal and fiscal conditions. Even when speculators sought to encourage towns, settlers needed an agricultural belt around or sometimes within defensive walls. When populations were quickly decreased by causes such as the Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

 or devastating warfare (for example, Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan , born Temujin and occasionally known by his temple name Taizu , was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death....

's Mongol hordes in eastern and central Europe, Thirty Years' War
Thirty Years' War
The Thirty Years' War was fought primarily in what is now Germany, and at various points involved most countries in Europe. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history....

 in Germany), this could lead to settlements being abandoned. The land was reclaimed by nature, but the secondary forest
Secondary forest
A secondary forest is a forest or woodland area which has re-grown after a major disturbance such as fire, insect infestation, timber harvest or windthrow, until a long enough period has passed so that the effects of the disturbance are no longer evident...

s usually lacked the original biodiversity
Biodiversity
Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...

.

From 1100 to 1500 AD, significant deforestation took place in Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

 as a result of the expanding human population
Overpopulation
Overpopulation is a condition where an organism's numbers exceed the carrying capacity of its habitat. The term often refers to the relationship between the human population and its environment, the Earth...

. The large-scale building of wooden sailing ships by European (coastal) naval owners since the 15th century for exploration, colonisation
Colonialism
Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

, slave trade–and other trade on the high seas consumed many forest resources. Piracy
Piracy
Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea. The term can include acts committed on land, in the air, or in other major bodies of water or on a shore. It does not normally include crimes committed against persons traveling on the same vessel as the perpetrator...

 also contributed to the over harvesting of forests, as in Spain. This led to a weakening of the domestic economy after Columbus' discovery of America, as the economy became dependent on colonial activities (plundering, mining, cattle, plantations, trade, etc.)

In Changes in the Land (1983), William Cronon
William Cronon
William 'Bill' Cronon is the Frederick Jackson Turner and Vilas Research Professor of History, Geography, and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison...

 analyzed and documented 17th-century English colonists' reports of increased seasonal flooding in New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

 during the period when new settlers initially cleared the forests for agriculture. They believed flooding was linked to widespread forest clearing upstream.

The massive use of charcoal
Charcoal
Charcoal is the dark grey residue consisting of carbon, and any remaining ash, obtained by removing water and other volatile constituents from animal and vegetation substances. Charcoal is usually produced by slow pyrolysis, the heating of wood or other substances in the absence of oxygen...

 on an industrial scale in Early Modern Europe
Early modern Europe
Early modern Europe is the term used by historians to refer to a period in the history of Europe which spanned the centuries between the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, roughly the late 15th century to the late 18th century...

 was a new type of consumption of western forests; even in Stuart England, the relatively primitive production of charcoal has already reached an impressive level. Stuart England was so widely deforested that it depended on the Baltic
Baltic region
The terms Baltic region, Baltic Rim countries, and Baltic Rim refer to slightly different combinations of countries in the general area surrounding the Baltic Sea.- Etymology :...

 trade for ship timbers, and looked to the untapped forests of New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

 to supply the need. Each of Nelson's Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 war ships at Trafalgar (1805) required 6,000 mature oaks for its construction. In France, Colbert
Jean-Baptiste Colbert
Jean-Baptiste Colbert was a French politician who served as the Minister of Finances of France from 1665 to 1683 under the rule of King Louis XIV. His relentless hard work and thrift made him an esteemed minister. He achieved a reputation for his work of improving the state of French manufacturing...

 planted oak
Oak
An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus , of which about 600 species exist. "Oak" may also appear in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus...

 forests to supply the French navy in the future. When the oak plantations matured in the mid-19th century, the masts were no longer required because shipping had changed.

Norman F. Cantor's summary of the effects of late medieval deforestation applies equally well to Early Modern Europe:

Industrial era


In the 19th century, introduction of steamboat
Steamboat
A steamboat or steamship, sometimes called a steamer, is a ship in which the primary method of propulsion is steam power, typically driving propellers or paddlewheels...

s in the United States was the cause of deforestation of banks of major rivers, such as the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

, with increased and more severe flooding one of the environmental results. The steamboat crews cut wood every day from the riverbanks to fuel the steam engines. Between St. Louis and the confluence with the Ohio River
Ohio River
The Ohio River is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River. At the confluence, the Ohio is even bigger than the Mississippi and, thus, is hydrologically the main stream of the whole river system, including the Allegheny River further upstream...

 to the south, the Mississippi became more wide and shallow, and changed its channel laterally. Attempts to improve navigation by the use of snagpullers often resulted in crews' clearing large trees 100 to 200 feet (61 m) back from the banks. Several French colonial towns of the Illinois Country
Illinois Country
The Illinois Country , also known as Upper Louisiana, was a region in what is now the Midwestern United States that was explored and settled by the French during the 17th and 18th centuries. The terms referred to the entire Upper Mississippi River watershed, though settlement was concentrated in...

, such as Kaskaskia
Kaskaskia, Illinois
Kaskaskia is a village in Randolph County, Illinois, United States. In the 2010 census the population was 14, making it the second-smallest incorporated community in the State of Illinois in terms of population. A major French colonial town of the Illinois Country, its peak population was about...

, Cahokia
Cahokia, Illinois
Cahokia is a village in St. Clair County, Illinois, United States. As of the 2000 census, the village had a population of 16,391. The name is a reference to one of the clans of the historic Illini confederacy, who were encountered by early French explorers to the region.Early European settlers also...

 and St. Philippe, Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

 were flooded and abandoned in the late 19th century, with a loss to the cultural record of their archeology.

The wholescale clearance of woodland to create agricultural land can be seen in many parts of the world, such as the Central forest-grasslands transition
Central forest-grasslands transition
The Central forest-grasslands transition are a prairie ecoregion of the central United States, part of the North American Great Plains.-Setting:...

 and other areas of the Great Plains
Great Plains
The Great Plains are a broad expanse of flat land, much of it covered in prairie, steppe and grassland, which lies west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada. This area covers parts of the U.S...

 of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. Specific parallels are seen in the 20th-century deforestation occurring in many developing nations.

Rates



Global deforestation sharply accelerated around 1852. It has been estimated that about half of the Earth's mature tropical forests—between 7.5 million and 8 million km2 (2.9 million to 3 million sq mi) of the original 15 million to 16 million km2 (5.8 million to 6.2 million sq mi) that until 1947 covered the planet—have now been destroyed. Some scientists have predicted that unless significant measures (such as seeking out and protecting old growth forests that have not been disturbed) are taken on a worldwide basis, by 2030 there will only be 10% remaining, with another 10% in a degraded condition. 80% will have been lost, and with them hundreds of thousands of irreplaceable species.

Estimates vary widely as to the extent of tropical deforestation. Scientists estimate that one fifth of the world's tropical rainforest was destroyed between 1960 and 1990. They claim that that rainforests 50 years ago covered 14% of the world's land surface, now only cover 5–7%, and that all tropical forests will be gone by the middle of the 21st century.

A 2002 analysis of satellite imagery suggested that the rate of deforestation in the humid tropics (approximately 5.8 million hectares per year) was roughly 23% lower than the most commonly quoted rates. Conversely, a newer analysis of satellite images reveals that deforestation of the Amazon rainforest
Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon Rainforest , also known in English as Amazonia or the Amazon Jungle, is a moist broadleaf forest that covers most of the Amazon Basin of South America...

 is twice as fast as scientists previously estimated.

Some have argued that deforestation trends may follow a Kuznets curve, which if true would nonetheless fail to eliminate the risk of irreversible loss of non-economic forest values (for example, the extinction of species).

A 2005 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization
Food and Agriculture Organization
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is a specialised agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and...

 (FAO) estimates that although the Earth's total forest area continues to decrease at about 13 million hectares per year, the global rate of deforestation has recently been slowing. Still others claim that rainforests are being destroyed at an ever-quickening pace. The London-based Rainforest Foundation notes that "the UN figure is based on a definition of forest as being an area with as little as 10% actual tree cover, which would therefore include areas that are actually savannah-like ecosystems and badly damaged forests." Other critics of the FAO data point out that they do not distinguish between forest types, and that they are based largely on reporting from forestry departments of individual countries, which do not take into account unofficial activities like illegal logging.

Despite these uncertainties, there is agreement that destruction of rainforests remains a significant environmental problem. Up to 90% of West Africa
West Africa
West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:-Flags of West Africa:...

's coastal rainforests have disappeared since 1900.
In South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

, about 88% of the rainforests have been lost. Much of what remains of the world's rainforests is in the Amazon basin
Amazon Basin
The Amazon Basin is the part of South America drained by the Amazon River and its tributaries that drains an area of about , or roughly 40 percent of South America. The basin is located in the countries of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, and Venezuela...

, where the Amazon Rainforest
Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon Rainforest , also known in English as Amazonia or the Amazon Jungle, is a moist broadleaf forest that covers most of the Amazon Basin of South America...

 covers approximately 4 million square kilometres. The regions with the highest tropical deforestation rate between 2000 and 2005 were Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

—which lost 1.3% of its forests each year—and tropical Asia. In Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

, two-thirds of lowland tropical forests have been turned into pasture since 1950 and 40% of all the rainforests have been lost in the last 40 years. Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 has lost 90–95% of its Mata Atlântica
Mata Atlântica
The Atlantic Forest is a region of tropical and subtropical moist forest, tropical dry forest, tropical savanna, semi deciduous forest and mangrove forests which extends along the Atlantic coast of Brazil from Rio Grande do Norte state in the north to Rio Grande do Sul state in the south, and...

 forest.,
Paraguay
Paraguay
Paraguay , officially the Republic of Paraguay , is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the...

 was losing its natural semi humid forests in the country’s western regions at a rate of 15.000 hectares at a randomly studied 2 month period in 2010, Paraguay’s parliament refused in 2009 to pass a law that would have stopped cutting of natural forests altogether.

Madagascar
Madagascar
The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...

 has lost 90% of its eastern rainforests. As of 2007, less than 1% of Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

's forests remained. Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, India, the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, Indonesia
Deforestation in Indonesia
Deforestation in Indonesia has been a massive environmental impact on the country, home to some of the most biologically diverse forests in the world, ranking third behind Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo. As late as 1900, Indonesia was still a densely forested country with the total...

, Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, Myanmar
Myanmar
Burma , officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar , is a country in Southeast Asia. Burma is bordered by China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, India on the northwest, the Bay of Bengal to the southwest, and the Andaman Sea on the south....

, Malaysia
Deforestation in Malaysia
Between 1990 and 2005 Malaysia lost 6.6% of its forest cover, or around 1,486,000 hectares.-Background:Malaysia declared its independence from Britain in 1957, and formed its current state in 1963. Since then, it has seen significant economic growth, a large part of which can be attributed to its...

, Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

, China, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

, Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

, Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

, the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a state located in Central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world...

, Liberia
Liberia
Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

, Guinea
Guinea
Guinea , officially the Republic of Guinea , is a country in West Africa. Formerly known as French Guinea , it is today sometimes called Guinea-Conakry to distinguish it from its neighbour Guinea-Bissau. Guinea is divided into eight administrative regions and subdivided into thirty-three prefectures...

, Ghana
Ghana
Ghana , officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country located in West Africa. It is bordered by Côte d'Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south...

 and the Côte d'Ivoire
Côte d'Ivoire
The Republic of Côte d'Ivoire or Ivory Coast is a country in West Africa. It has an area of , and borders the countries Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana; its southern boundary is along the Gulf of Guinea. The country's population was 15,366,672 in 1998 and was estimated to be...

, have lost large areas of their rainforest. Several countries, notably Brazil
Deforestation in Brazil
Brazil once had the highest deforestation rate in the world and as of 2005 still has the largest area of forest removed annually. Since 1970, over of Amazon rainforest have been destroyed. In 2001, the Amazon was approximately 5.4 million square kilometers, which is only 87% of the Amazon’s...

, have declared their deforestation a national emergency. The World Wildlife Fund's ecoregion
Ecoregion
An ecoregion , sometimes called a bioregion, is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than an ecozone and larger than an ecosystem. Ecoregions cover relatively large areas of land or water, and contain characteristic, geographically distinct assemblages of natural...

 project catalogues habitat types throughout the world, including habitat loss such as deforestation, showing for example that even in the rich forests of parts of Canada such as the Mid-Continental Canadian forests
Mid-Continental Canadian forests
-Setting:This ecoregion extends from south of the Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories through most of northeastern Alberta, central Saskatchewan and parts of west-central Manitoba and consists of three main areas: the Slave River basin in northeastern Alberta, the lowlands of the northern...

 of the prairie provinces half of the forest cover has been lost or altered.

Regions



Rates of deforestation vary around the world.

In 2011 Conservation International
Conservation International
Conservation International is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, which seeks to ensure the health of humanity by protecting Earth's ecosystems and biodiversity. CI’s work focuses on six key initiatives that affect human well-being: climate, food security, freshwater...

 listed the top 10 most endangered forests, characterized by having all lost 90% or more of their original habitat
Habitat
* Habitat , a place where a species lives and grows*Human habitat, a place where humans live, work or play** Space habitat, a space station intended as a permanent settlement...

, and each harboring at least 1500 endemic plant species (species found nowhere else in the world).
style="text-align:center; background:DarkGreen; color:white;"|Top 10 Most Endangered Forests 2011
Endangered forest Region Remaining habitat Predominate vegetation type Notes
Indo-Burma
Indo-Burma
Indo-Burma is a biodiversity hotspot designated by Conservation International, which extends from eastern India and southern China across Southeast Asia, and includes Australia, but excluding the Malay Peninsula...

Asia-Pacific 5% Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests
Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests
Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests , also known as tropical moist forests, are a tropical and subtropical forest biome....

Rivers, floodplain wetlands, mangrove forests. Myanmar
Myanmar
Burma , officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar , is a country in Southeast Asia. Burma is bordered by China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, India on the northwest, the Bay of Bengal to the southwest, and the Andaman Sea on the south....

 (Burma), Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

, Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

, Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

.
New Caledonia
New Caledonia
New Caledonia is a special collectivity of France located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, east of Australia and about from Metropolitan France. The archipelago, part of the Melanesia subregion, includes the main island of Grande Terre, the Loyalty Islands, the Belep archipelago, the Isle of...

Asia-Pacific 5% Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests See note for region covered.
Sundaland
Sundaland
Sundaland is a biogeographical region of Southeastern Asia which encompasses the areas of the Asian continental shelf that was exposed during the last ice age. It included the Malay Peninsula on the Asian mainland, as well as the large islands of Borneo, Java, and Sumatra and their surrounding...

Asia-Pacific 7% Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests Western half of the Indo-Malayan archipelago including southern Borneo
Borneo
Borneo is the third largest island in the world and is located north of Java Island, Indonesia, at the geographic centre of Maritime Southeast Asia....

 and Sumatra
Sumatra
Sumatra is an island in western Indonesia, westernmost of the Sunda Islands. It is the largest island entirely in Indonesia , and the sixth largest island in the world at 473,481 km2 with a population of 50,365,538...

.
Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

Asia-Pacific 7% Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests Forests over the entire country including 7,100 islands.
Atlantic Forest South America 8% Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests Forests along Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

's Atlantic coast, extends to parts of Paraguay
Paraguay
Paraguay , officially the Republic of Paraguay , is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the...

, Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

 and Uruguay
Uruguay
Uruguay ,officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay,sometimes the Eastern Republic of Uruguay; ) is a country in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to some 3.5 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area...

.
Mountains of Southwest China Asia-Pacific 8% Temperate coniferous forest See note for region covered.
California Floristic Province
California Floristic Province
The California Floristic Province is a floristic province with a Mediterranean climate located on the Pacific Coast of North America with a distinctive flora that bears similarities to floras found in other regions experiencing a winter rainfall, summer drought climate like the Mediterranean...

North America 10% Tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests
Tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests
The tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forest biome, also known as tropical dry forest, is located at tropical and subtropical latitudes. Though these forests occur in climates that are warm year-round, and may receive several hundred centimeters of rain per year, they have long dry seasons...

See note for region covered.
Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa
Coastal forests of eastern Africa
The Coastal forests of eastern Africa is a tropical moist forest region along the east coast of Africa. The region was designated a biodiversity hotspot by Conservation International....

Africa 10% Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests Mozambique
Mozambique
Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...

, Tanzania
Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

, Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

, Somalia
Somalia
Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

.
Madagascar
Madagascar
The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...

 & Indian Ocean Islands
Africa 10% Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests Madagascar
Madagascar
The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...

, Mauritius
Mauritius
Mauritius , officially the Republic of Mauritius is an island nation off the southeast coast of the African continent in the southwest Indian Ocean, about east of Madagascar...

, Reunion, Seychelles
Seychelles
Seychelles , officially the Republic of Seychelles , is an island country spanning an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, some east of mainland Africa, northeast of the island of Madagascar....

, Comoros
Comoros
The Comoros , officially the Union of the Comoros is an archipelago island nation in the Indian Ocean, located off the eastern coast of Africa, on the northern end of the Mozambique Channel, between northeastern Mozambique and northwestern Madagascar...

.
Eastern Afromontane Africa 11% Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests
Montane grasslands and shrublands
Montane grasslands and shrublands
Montane grasslands and shrublands is a biome defined by the World Wildlife Fund. The biome includes high altitude grasslands and shrublands around the world....

Forests scattered along the eastern edge of Africa, from Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

 in the north to Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country located in the southern part of the African continent, between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. It is bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the southwest, Zambia and a tip of Namibia to the northwest and Mozambique to the east. Zimbabwe has three...

 in the south.
Table source:

Reducing emissions



Major international organizations, including the United Nations and the World Bank, have begun to develop programs aimed at curbing deforestation. The blanket term Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) describes these sorts of programs, which use direct monetary or other incentives to encourage developing countries to limit and/or roll back deforestation. Funding has been an issue, but at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties-15 (COP-15) in Copenhagen in December 2009, an accord was reached with a collective commitment by developed countries for new and additional resources, including forestry and investments through international institutions, that will approach USD 30 billion for the period 2010–2012. Significant work is underway on tools for use in monitoring developing country adherence to their agreed REDD targets. These tools, which rely on remote forest monitoring using satellite imagery and other data sources, include the Center for Global Development's
Center for Global Development
The Center for Global Development is a non-profit think tank based in Washington, D.C. that focuses on international development. It was founded in November 2001 by former senior U.S. official Edward W. Scott, director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, C. Fred Bergsten, and...

 FORMA (Forest Monitoring for Action) initiative and the Group on Earth Observations'
Group on Earth Observations
The Group on Earth Observations is coordinating international efforts to build a Global Earth Observation System of Systems . It is linking together existing and planned Earth observation systems and supporting the development of new ones where the need exists...

 Forest Carbon Tracking Portal. Methodological guidance for forest monitoring was also emphasized at COP-15 The environmental organization Avoided Deforestation Partners
Avoided Deforestation Partners
Avoided Deforestation Partners, or ADP, is an organization promoting the role of the world’s forests in stopping climate change. The organization is involved in the climate change debate...

 leads the campaign for development of REDD through funding from the U.S. government.

In evaluating implications of overall emissions reductions, countries of greatest concern are those categorized as High Forest Cover with High Rates of Deforestation (HFHD) and Low Forest Cover with High Rates of Deforestation (LFHD). Afghanistan, Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mongolia, Myanmar(Burma), Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zimbabwe are listed as having Low Forest Cover with High Rates of Deforestation (LFHD). Brazil, Cambodia, Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, Equatorial Guinea, Malaysia, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Venezuela, Zambia are listed as High Forest Cover with High Rates of Deforestation (HFHD).

Farming


New methods are being developed to farm more intensively, such as high-yield hybrid crops, greenhouse
Greenhouse
A greenhouse is a building in which plants are grown. These structures range in size from small sheds to very large buildings...

, autonomous building
Autonomous building
An autonomous building is a building designed to be operated independently from infrastructural support services such as the electric power grid, gas grid, municipal water systems, sewage treatment systems, storm drains, communication services, and in some cases, public roads.Advocates of...

 gardens, and hydroponics. These methods are often dependent on chemical inputs to maintain necessary yields. In cyclic agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

, cattle are grazed on farm land that is resting and rejuvenating. Cyclic agriculture actually increases the fertility of the soil. Intensive farming can also decrease soil nutrients by consuming at an accelerated rate the trace minerals needed for crop growth.The most promising approach, however, is the concept of food forests
Forest gardening
Forest gardening is a food production and agroforestry system based on woodland ecosystems, incorporating fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines and perennial vegetables which have yields directly useful to humans...

 in permaculture
Permaculture
Permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that is modeled on the relationships found in nature. It is based on the ecology of how things interrelate rather than on the strictly biological concerns that form the foundation of modern agriculture...

, which consists of agroforestal systems carefully designed to mimic natural forests, with an emphasis on plant and animal species of interest for food, timber and other uses. These systems have low dependence on fossil fuels and agro-chemicals, are highly self-maintaining, highly productive, and with strong positive impact on soil and water quality, and biodiversity
Biodiversity
Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...

.

Monitoring Deforestation


There are multiple methods that are appropriate and reliable for reducing and monitoring deforestation. One method is the “visual interpretation of aerial photos or satellite imagery that is labor-intensive but does not require high-level training in computer image processing or extensive computational resources”. Another method includes hot-spot analysis (that is, locations of rapid change) using expert opinion or coarse resolution satellite data to identify locations for detailed digital analysis with high resolution satellite images. Deforestation is typically assessed by quantifying the amount of area deforested, measured at the present time.
From an environmental point of view, quantifying the damage and its possible consequences is a more important task, while conservation efforts are more focused on forested land protection and development of land-use alternatives to avoid continued deforestation. Deforestation rate and total area deforested, have been widely used for monitoring deforestation in many regions, including the Brazilian Amazon deforestation monitoring by INPE. Monitoring deforestation is a very complicated process, which becomes even more complicated with the increasing needs for resources.

Forest management


Efforts to stop or slow deforestation have been attempted for many centuries because it has long been known that deforestation can cause environmental damage sufficient in some cases to cause societies to collapse. In Tonga
Tonga
Tonga, officially the Kingdom of Tonga , is a state and an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, comprising 176 islands scattered over of ocean in the South Pacific...

, paramount rulers developed policies designed to prevent conflicts between short-term gains from converting forest to farmland and long-term problems forest loss would cause, while during the 17th and 18th centuries in Tokugawa
Tokugawa shogunate
The Tokugawa shogunate, also known as the and the , was a feudal regime of Japan established by Tokugawa Ieyasu and ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family. This period is known as the Edo period and gets its name from the capital city, Edo, which is now called Tokyo, after the name was...

, Japan, the shoguns developed a highly sophisticated system of long-term planning to stop and even reverse deforestation of the preceding centuries through substituting timber by other products and more efficient use of land that had been farmed for many centuries. In 16th century Germany landowners also developed silviculture
Silviculture
Silviculture is the practice of controlling the establishment, growth, composition, health, and quality of forests to meet diverse needs and values. The name comes from the Latin silvi- + culture...

 to deal with the problem of deforestation. However, these policies tend to be limited to environments with good rainfall, no dry season and very young soil
Soil
Soil is a natural body consisting of layers of mineral constituents of variable thicknesses, which differ from the parent materials in their morphological, physical, chemical, and mineralogical characteristics...

s
(through volcanism
Volcano
2. Bedrock3. Conduit 4. Base5. Sill6. Dike7. Layers of ash emitted by the volcano8. Flank| 9. Layers of lava emitted by the volcano10. Throat11. Parasitic cone12. Lava flow13. Vent14. Crater15...

 or glaciation). This is because on older and less fertile soils trees grow too slowly for silviculture to be economic, whilst in areas with a strong dry season there is always a risk of forest fires destroying a tree crop before it matures.

In the areas where "slash-and-burn" is practiced, switching to "slash-and-char
Slash-and-char
Slash-and-char is an alternative to slash-and-burn that has a lesser effect on the environment. It is the practice of charring the biomass resulting from the slashing, instead of burning it as in the slash-and-burn practice....

" would prevent the rapid deforestation and subsequent degradation of soils. The biochar
Biochar
Biochar or terra preta is charcoal created by pyrolysis of biomass. Biochar is under investigation as an approach to carbon sequestration via bio-energy with carbon capture and storage. Biochar thus has the potential to help mitigate climate change, via carbon sequestration...

 thus created, given back to the soil, is not only a durable carbon sequestration method, but it also is an extremely beneficial amendment
Soil conditioner
A soil conditioner, also called a soil amendment, is a material added to soil to improve plant growth and health. A conditioner or a combination of conditioners corrects the soil's deficiencies in structure and-or nutrients.-Purpose:...

 to the soil. Mixed with biomass
Biomass
Biomass, as a renewable energy source, is biological material from living, or recently living organisms. As an energy source, biomass can either be used directly, or converted into other energy products such as biofuel....

 it brings the creation of terra preta
Terra preta
Terra preta is a type of very dark, fertile anthropogenic soil found in the Amazon Basin. Terra preta owes its name to its very high charcoal content, and was indeed made by adding a mixture of charcoal, bone, and manure to the otherwise relatively infertile Amazonian soil, and stays there for...

, one of the richest soils on the planet and the only one known to regenerate itself.

Sustainable practices


Certification, as provided by global certification systems such as Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification and Forest Stewardship Council
Forest Stewardship Council
The Forest Stewardship Council is an international not-for-profit, multi-stakeholder organization established in 1993 to promote responsible management of the world’s forests. Its main tools for achieving this are standard setting, independent certification and labeling of forest products...

, contributes to tackling deforestation by creating market demand for timber from sustainably managed forests. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), "A major condition for the adoption of sustainable forest management is a demand for products that are produced sustainably and consumer willingness to pay for the higher costs entailed. Certification represents a shift from regulatory approaches to market incentives to promote sustainable forest management. By promoting the positive attributes of forest products from sustainably managed forests, certification focuses on the demand side of environmental conservation." Some nations have taken steps to help increase the amount of trees on Earth. In 1981, China created National Tree Planting Day Forest and forest coverage had now reached 16.55% of China's land mass, as against only 12% two decades ago

Reforestation



In many parts of the world, especially in East Asian countries, reforestation and afforestation
Afforestation
Afforestation is the establishment of a forest or stand of trees in an area where there was no forest. Reforestation is the reestablishment of forest cover, either naturally or artificially...

 are increasing the area of forested lands. The amount of woodland has increased in 22 of the world's 50 most forested nations. Asia as a whole gained 1 million hectare
Hectare
The hectare is a metric unit of area defined as 10,000 square metres , and primarily used in the measurement of land. In 1795, when the metric system was introduced, the are was defined as being 100 square metres and the hectare was thus 100 ares or 1/100 km2...

s of forest between 2000 and 2005. Tropical forest in El Salvador expanded more than 20% between 1992 and 2001. Based on these trends, one study projects that global forest will increase by 10%—an area the size of India—by 2050.

In the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

, where large scale destruction of forests has occurred, the government has in the past required that every able-bodied citizen between the ages of 11 and 60 plant three to five trees per year or do the equivalent amount of work in other forest services. The government claims that at least 1 billion
1000000000 (number)
1,000,000,000 is the natural number following 999,999,999 and preceding 1,000,000,001.In scientific notation, it is written as 109....

 trees have been planted in China every year since 1982. This is no longer required today, but March 12 of every year in China is the Planting Holiday. Also, it has introduced the Green Wall of China
Green Wall of China
The Green Wall of China, also known as the Green Great Wall or Great Green Wall , will be a series of human-planted forest strips in the People's Republic of China, designed to hold back the expansion of the Gobi Desert...

 project, which aims to halt the expansion of the Gobi desert through the planting of trees. However, due to the large percentage of trees dying off after planting (up to 75%), the project is not very successful. There has been a 47-million-hectare increase in forest area in China since the 1970s. The total number of trees amounted to be about 35 billion and 4.55% of China's land mass increased in forest coverage. The forest coverage was 12% two decades ago and now is 16.55%.

An ambitious proposal for China is the Aerially Delivered Re-forestation and Erosion Control System and the proposed Sahara Forest Project coupled with the Seawater Greenhouse
Seawater Greenhouse
The Seawater Greenhouse is a technology that enables the growth of crops in arid regions, using a greenhouse structure, seawater and solar energy...

.

In Western countries, increasing consumer demand for wood products that have been produced and harvested in a sustainable manner is causing forest landowners and forest industries to become increasingly accountable for their forest management and timber harvesting practices.

The Arbor Day Foundation's Rain Forest Rescue program is a charity that helps to prevent deforestation. The charity uses donated money to buy up and preserve rainforest land before the lumber
Lumber
Lumber or timber is wood in any of its stages from felling through readiness for use as structural material for construction, or wood pulp for paper production....

 companies can buy it. The Arbor Day Foundation then protects the land from deforestation. This also locks in the way of life of the primitive tribes living on the forest land. Organizations such as Community Forestry International
Community Forestry International
Community Forestry International, Inc. also known as CFI, is a non-profit organization that helps communities regenerate and preserve forests.-Function:...

, Cool Earth
Cool Earth
Cool Earth is a UK based international non-governmental organization that protects endangered rainforest to combat global warming, protect ecosystems and provide sustainable jobs for local people...

, The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy is a US charitable environmental organization that works to preserve the plants, animals, and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive....

, World Wide Fund for Nature
World Wide Fund for Nature
The World Wide Fund for Nature is an international non-governmental organization working on issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment, formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States...

, Conservation International
Conservation International
Conservation International is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, which seeks to ensure the health of humanity by protecting Earth's ecosystems and biodiversity. CI’s work focuses on six key initiatives that affect human well-being: climate, food security, freshwater...

, African Conservation Foundation
African Conservation Foundation
The African Conservation Foundation, also known as ACF, is an international non-governmental organisation established in 1999 and registered in 2001. Its focus is wildlife and habitat conservation within and outside of protected areas, adopting an integrated approach which includes community...

 and Greenpeace
Greenpeace
Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over forty countries and with an international coordinating body in Amsterdam, The Netherlands...

 also focus on preserving forest habitats. Greenpeace in particular has also mapped out the forests that are still intact and published this information on the internet. World Resources Institute in turn has made a simpler thematic map showing the amount of forests present just before the age of man (8000 years ago) and the current (reduced) levels of forest. These maps mark the amount of afforestation required to repair the damage caused by people.

Forest plantations


To meet the world's demand for wood, it has been suggested by forestry writers Botkins and Sedjo that high-yielding forest plantations are suitable. It has been calculated that plantations yielding 10 cubic meters per hectare annually could supply all the timber required for international trade on 5% of the world's existing forestland. By contrast, natural forests produce about 1–2 cubic meters per hectare; therefore, 5–10 times more forestland would be required to meet demand. Forester Chad Oliver has suggested a forest mosaic with high-yield forest lands interpersed with conservation land.

In the country of Senegal, on the western coast of Africa, a movement headed by youths has helped to plant over 6 million mangrove trees. The trees will protect local villages from storm damages and will provide a habitat for local wildlife. The project started in 2008, and already the Senegalese government has been asked to establish rules and regulations that would protect the new mangrove forests.

Military context


While the preponderance of deforestation is due to demands for agricultural and urban use for the human population, there are some examples of military causes. One example of deliberate deforestation is that which took place in the U.S. zone of occupation
Allied Occupation Zones in Germany
The Allied powers who defeated Nazi Germany in World War II divided the country west of the Oder-Neisse line into four occupation zones for administrative purposes during 1945–49. In the closing weeks of fighting in Europe, US forces had pushed beyond the previously agreed boundaries for the...

 in Germany after World War II. Before the onset of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 defeated Germany was still considered a potential future threat rather than potential future ally. To address this threat, attempts were made to lower German industrial potential
Industrial plans for Germany
The Industrial plans for Germany were designs the Allies considered imposing on Germany in the aftermath of World War II to reduce and manage Germany's industrial capacity.-Background:...

, of which forests were deemed an element. Sources in the U.S. government admitted that the purpose of this was that the "ultimate destruction of the war potential of German forests." As a consequence of the practice of clear-felling, deforestation resulted which could "be replaced only by long forestry development over perhaps a century."

War
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

 can also be a cause of deforestation, either deliberately such as through the use of Agent Orange
Agent Orange
Agent Orange is the code name for one of the herbicides and defoliants used by the U.S. military as part of its herbicidal warfare program, Operation Ranch Hand, during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1971. Vietnam estimates 400,000 people were killed or maimed, and 500,000 children born with birth...

 during the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 where, together with bombs and bulldozers, it contributed to the destruction of 44% of the forest cover, or inadvertently such as in the 1945 Battle of Okinawa
Battle of Okinawa
The Battle of Okinawa, codenamed Operation Iceberg, was fought on the Ryukyu Islands of Okinawa and was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific War of World War II. The 82-day-long battle lasted from early April until mid-June 1945...

 where bombardment and other combat operations reduced the lush tropical landscape into "a vast field of mud, lead, decay and maggots".

See also



  • Assarting
    Assarting
    Assarting is the act of clearing forested lands for use in agriculture or other purposes. In English law, it was illegal to assart any part of a Royal forest...

  • Biochar
    Biochar
    Biochar or terra preta is charcoal created by pyrolysis of biomass. Biochar is under investigation as an approach to carbon sequestration via bio-energy with carbon capture and storage. Biochar thus has the potential to help mitigate climate change, via carbon sequestration...

  • CDM & JI A/R projects
    Flexible Mechanisms
    Flexible mechanisms, also sometimes known as Flexibility Mechanisms or Kyoto Mechanisms), refers to Emissions Trading, the Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation. These are mechanisms defined under the Kyoto Protocol intended to lower the overall costs of achieving its emissions targets...

  • Deforestation during the Roman period
    Deforestation during the Roman period
    The rise and fall of the Roman Empire encompasses the time when Rome was the leading contributor to deforestation in the Mediterranean. Whereas the Mediterranean was largely "prehistoric" in 1000 BC, it was definitely "historic" by 500 AD. Roman geographical and population expansion spread methods...

  • Desertification
    Desertification
    Desertification is the degradation of land in drylands. Caused by a variety of factors, such as climate change and human activities, desertification is one of the most significant global environmental problems.-Definitions:...

  • Ecoforestry
    Ecoforestry
    Ecoforestry has been defined as selection forestry or restoration forestry. The main idea of Ecoforestry is to maintain or restore the forest to standards where the forest may still be harvested for products on a sustainable basis.. Ecoforestry is forestry that emphasizes holistic practices which...

  • Economic impact analysis
    Economic impact analysis
    Economic impact analysis examines the effect of a policy, program, project, activity or event on the economy of a given area. The area can range from a neighborhood to the entire globe...

  • Environmental issues with paper
    Environmental issues with paper
    The environmental impact of paper is significant, which has led to changes in industry and behavior at both business and personal levels. With the use of modern technology such as the printing press and the highly mechanised harvesting of wood, paper has become a cheap commodity. This has led to a...

  • Extinction
    Extinction
    In biology and ecology, extinction is the end of an organism or of a group of organisms , normally a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of the species, although the capacity to breed and recover may have been lost before this point...

  • Forestry
    Forestry
    Forestry is the interdisciplinary profession embracing the science, art, and craft of creating, managing, using, and conserving forests and associated resources in a sustainable manner to meet desired goals, needs, and values for human benefit. Forestry is practiced in plantations and natural stands...

  • Illegal logging
    Illegal logging
    Illegal logging is the harvest, transportation, purchase or sale of timber in violation of laws. The harvesting procedure itself may be illegal, including using corrupt means to gain access to forests; extraction without permission or from a protected area; the cutting of protected species; or the...

  • Land use, land-use change and forestry
    Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry
    Land use, land-use change and forestry is defined by the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat as "A greenhouse gas inventory sector that covers emissions and removals of greenhouse gases resulting from direct human-induced land use, land-use change and forestry activities."LULUCF has impacts...

  • Moisture recycling
    Moisture recycling
    In hydrology, moisture recycling or precipitation recycling refer to the process by which a portion of the precipitated water that evapotranspired from a given area contributes to the precipitation over the same area. Moisture recycling is thus a component of the hydrologic cycle...

  • Mountaintop removal
    Mountaintop removal
    Mountaintop removal mining is a form of surface mining that requires the removal of the summit or summit ridge of a mountain in order to permit easier access to the coal seams...

  • Natural landscape
    Natural landscape
    A natural landscape is a landscape that is unaffected by human activity. A natural landscape is intact when all living and nonliving elements are free to move and change. The nonliving elements distinguish a natural landscape from a wilderness. A wilderness includes areas within which natural...

  • Neolithic
    Neolithic
    The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

  • Overpopulation
    Overpopulation
    Overpopulation is a condition where an organism's numbers exceed the carrying capacity of its habitat. The term often refers to the relationship between the human population and its environment, the Earth...

  • Rainforest
    Rainforest
    Rainforests are forests characterized by high rainfall, with definitions based on a minimum normal annual rainfall of 1750-2000 mm...

  • Richard St. Barbe Baker
    Richard St. Barbe Baker
    Richard St. Barbe Baker was an English forester, environmental activist and author, who contributed greatly to worldwide reforestation efforts. As a leader, he founded an organization, still active today, whose many chapters carry out reforestation internationally.-Early years:He was born in...

  • Satoyama
    Satoyama
    is a Japanese term applied to the border zone or area between mountain foothills and arable flat land. Literally, sato means arable and livable land or home land, and yama means mountain...

  • Slash-and-burn
  • Slash-and-char
    Slash-and-char
    Slash-and-char is an alternative to slash-and-burn that has a lesser effect on the environment. It is the practice of charring the biomass resulting from the slashing, instead of burning it as in the slash-and-burn practice....

  • Terra preta
    Terra preta
    Terra preta is a type of very dark, fertile anthropogenic soil found in the Amazon Basin. Terra preta owes its name to its very high charcoal content, and was indeed made by adding a mixture of charcoal, bone, and manure to the otherwise relatively infertile Amazonian soil, and stays there for...

  • Wilderness
    Wilderness
    Wilderness or wildland is a natural environment on Earth that has not been significantly modified by human activity. It may also be defined as: "The most intact, undisturbed wild natural areas left on our planet—those last truly wild places that humans do not control and have not developed with...

  • Intact forest landscape
    Intact forest landscape
    An Intact Forest Landscape—IFL is an unbroken natural landscape of a forest ecosystem and its habitat—plant community components, in a current extant forest zone...

  • World Forestry Congress
    World Forestry Congress
    The World Forestry Congress is the largest and most significant gathering of the world's forestry sector and it has been held every six years since 1926 under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations , organized by the government of the host country...

  • International Year of Forests
    International Year of Forests
    The year 2011 was declared the International Year of Forests by the United Nations to raise awareness and strengthen the sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests for the benefit of current and future generations....

  • Biodiversity
    Biodiversity
    Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...



External links




In the media
  • March 14, 2007, Independent Online
    The Independent
    The Independent is a British national morning newspaper published in London by Independent Print Limited, owned by Alexander Lebedev since 2010. It is nicknamed the Indy, while the Sunday edition, The Independent on Sunday, is the Sindy. Launched in 1986, it is one of the youngest UK national daily...

    : Destruction of forests in developing world 'out of control'


Films online