Deforestation:
11 facts you need to know

Agricultural expansion, illegal logging, mining and urbanization continue to drive deforestation around the world. Globally, forests are under threat — large-scale efforts are needed to protect these ecosystems and the many benefits they provide.

 

© Conservation International/photo by Olaf Zerbock

One Belgium, every year

According to satellite data 1, 2, from 2002 through 2019, global tropical forest loss averaged 3.36 million hectares (8.3 million acres) a year — an area larger than Belgium. Tweet this fact »

 

© Flavio Forner

Half gone

More than half the world’s tropical forests have been destroyed since the 1960s.3 Tweet this fact »

 

© Conservation International/photo by Olaf Zerbock

Every six seconds

In 2019, the world lost an entire soccer field worth of primary rainforest every six seconds.4 Tweet this fact »

 

© Kate Evans/CIFOR

Brazil under siege

Between 2001 and 2019, Brazil lost 565,000 square kilometers (218,148 square miles) of tree cover — an area larger than the state of California — to deforestation.5 Tweet this fact »

 

© Benjamin Drummond

60 percent

Ghana saw a 60 percent spike in the loss of its primary forests between 2017 and 2018 — more than any other tropical country.6 Tweet this fact »

 

Stand Up for Forests, They Need You

Forests are vital to the health of the planet — providing our air, food and water. As trees disappear, deforestation will cost us all. Your donation will help us support communities around the world as they protect forests.

 

© Pete Oxford/iLCP

40% due to agriculture

Commercial agriculture — such as cattle ranching, soy cultivation and oil palm plantations — drives 40 percent of deforestation worldwide.7 Mining, infrastructure and urbanization are also key culprits. Tweet this fact »

 

© Cristina Mittermeier

45 million jobs

Globally, the formal forest sector provides 45 million jobs and about US$ 580 billion in labor income.7 Estimates are likely much higher if the informal forest sector is included. Tweet this fact »

 

© Thomas Muller

1.6 billion people

Deforestation impacts 1.6 billion rural people worldwide who rely on forests for their livelihoods3 — most live in extreme poverty. Tweet this fact »

 

© Conservation International/photo by Bailey Evans

12% of emissions

Forests release carbon dioxide when they are cleared or burnt. About 12 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation8 — roughly equivalent to emissions from all the cars and trucks on Earth. Tweet this fact »

 

© Cristina Mittermeier

Increasing pressure

By 2050, the global demand for food could double. Using existing farmland more efficiently could feed more people without clearing additional forests and wetlands.9 Tweet this fact »

 

© Conservation International/photo by Haroldo Castro

What are the effects of deforestation?

Forests are vital for food, water and livelihoods — and they affect you, whether you know it or not. Read “Forest conservation: 14 things you need to know” ​to learn more.​​​ Tweet this fact »

 

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References

  1. Global Forest Watch. Global Primary Forest Loss. Retrieved March, 2020, from https://www.globalforestwatch.org/dashboards/global
  2. Weisse, M. and Goldman, E.D. (2020, June 2). We Lost a Football Pitch of Primary Rainforest Every 6 Seconds in 2019. World Resources Institute. https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/06/global-tree-cover-loss-data-2019
  3. International Union for Conservation of Nature. (2021, February). Deforestation and forest degradation. https://www.iucn.org/resources/issues-briefs/deforestation-and-forest-degradation
  4. Global Forest Watch. (2020, June). We Lost a Football Pitch of Primary Rainforest Every 6 Seconds in 2019. https://blog.globalforestwatch.org/data-and-research/global-tree-cover-loss-data-2019/
  5. Global Forest Watch. Global Tree Cover Loss. Retrieved March, 2020, from https://www.globalforestwatch.org/dashboards/global
  1. Weisse, M. and Goldman, E.D. (2019, April 25). The World Lost a Belgium-sized Area of Primary Rainforests Last Year. World Resources Institute. https://www.wri.org/blog/2019/04/world-lost-belgium-sized-area-primary-rainforests-last-year
  2. FAO and UNEP. 2020. The State of the World’s Forests 2020. Forests, biodiversity and people. Rome. https://doi.org/10.4060/ca8642en
  3. Brack, Duncan. (2019). Background Analytical Study: Forests and Climate Change. United Nations Forum on Forests. https://www.un.org/esa/forests/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/UNFF14-BkgdStudy-SDG13-March2019.pdf
  4. Tilman, D., Balzer, C., Hill, J., & Befort, B. L. (2011). Global food demand and the sustainable intensification of agriculture. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(50), 20260–20264. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1116437108
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