How Fast Are Humans Destroying The World's Forests?

Everyone knows deforestation is an issue. Forests around the world are routinely cut down to make way for cities, farms, and roads. In fact, the equivalent of 48 football fields are destroyed every minute.

What's Happening

Here are the facts: every year, up to 58 million square miles of forest are wiped from the Earth. Around half of the world's tropical forests are gone, causing real issues for the animals that call them home. This isn't all to make room for new development—according to the WWF, half of the trees cut down illegally are used as fuel. Other times, trees are harvested for their wood, oil, and other prized elements.

Smart Graphic

Why It Matters

Deforestation affects all life, from the 80% of land organisms that live in forests to the farmers near them who hope for rainfall. Trees are a reliable defense against climate change, as they remove carbon from the air. That's why deforestation is so harmful: not only does it remove that defense, it's estimated that it also causes around 15% of greenhouse gas emissions.

So how can you help? Greenpeace says that ordinary consumers can start by using less stuff, and choosing sustainable food and recycled/recyclable products when possible. You can also educate your friends and family. The more people know about the issue, the more can be done to stop it.

Editors' Picks: The Web's Best Videos About Deforestation

How Many Trees Are There?

This question is hard to answer.

Key Facts In This Video

  1. 80% of terrestrial species live in trees, and 1.6 billion people rely on forests for their livelihood. 01:23

  2. A 2015 study estimated that there are 3 trillion trees on Earth, which is around 420 trees for every human. 02:19

  3. Fewer trees could lead to less rain. 03:18

Deforestation In The Amazon Rainforest

The issue has gotten somewhat less dire recently, but it's still a problem.

How To Protect The Rainforest

Here's what you can do to help.

Written by Curiosity Staff April 7, 2016

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