Deforested land in South America

Deforestation

15 billion trees are slaughtered annual for various purposes. The act of cutting down an area of heavily forested land is known as deforestation. According to the National Geographic, "Deforestation is the purposeful clearing of forested land. Throughout history and into modern times, forests have been razed to make space for agriculture and animal grazing, and to obtain wood for fuel, manufacturing, and construction." It's not a new phenomena, but deforestation is posing a big problem in the post-industrial world. In short, since humans began farming, forests have been getting smaller and with a growing population and appetite for meat, we are fearful that forests, especially the tropical forests in Brasil and Indonesia, will continue to shrink. 

Mind-blowing facts: 

  • 2000 years ago, 80% of Europe was forested land
  • In 2023 just 34% of Europe remains forested 
  • Much of the world's farmland were forests 
  • Deforestation can result in carbon dioxide in our atmosphere
  • Most deforestation today occurs in tropical forests
  • Key drivers of deforestation: 41% beef farming, palm oil and soya bean 18% (World in Data)
  • Loss of trees can make soil more prone to erosion 
  • Loss of trees also destroys the homes of a wide range of species
  • Some scientists claim that we are already living in a period of mass extinction 
  • Forests are home to half of land based animals
  • Globally over 1 billion people live in and around forests 

Click this link to view an interactive mass of forest to get more info on the number of trees lost in different regions of the world. 

Forested areas equivalent to the size of Morocco was lost between 2004 and 2017, that's 43 million hectares. Scientists have drawn parallels between climate changes such as extreme weather changes causing drought which can lead to crop failure, and extreme rain, which can cause flooding, on our failure to effectively address our reliance on fossil fuels. The intersectionality of the climate crisis is already disproportionately impacting the poorest living in the global south. 

Many initiative in the UK and beyond have been established in recent years by organisations seeking to plant more trees and in doing so, raising awareness of the importance trees play in our future and our changing climate. 

Although bamboo has been cited by the UN as having reforestation capabilities in areas of depletion in China for example, and for land restoration in India, it is important to state that local eco-systems thrive best when indigenous trees are used to reforest. 

Sources: 

World Wildlife Fund

World in Data 

National Geographic 

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