11 facts you need to know

The causes of deforestation — food, firewood, mineral extraction, unsustainable agricultural expansion — continue unabated around the world.


  1. Satellite image of deforestation in the Democratic Republic of Congo© CI/Olaf Zerbock

    One South Carolina, every year
    According to satellite data, tropical forests are being destroyed at a rate of about 8 million hectares (31,000 square miles) a year — an area equivalent in size to the state of South Carolina or the Czech Republic.

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  2. Slash and burning forest for farmland in Madagascar© CI/Haroldo Castro​

    Fourteen Manhattans, every day
    Despite their immense value, since the 1960s, nearly half of the world’s rainforests have been lost. Every day, about 81,000 hectares (200,000 acres) of rainforest — an area nearly 14 times the size of Manhattan — are burned around the world.​

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  3. Deforestation in the Democratic Republic of Congo© CI/Olaf Zerbock​​

    Every single minute
    About 36 football fields’ worth of trees are lost every minute due to deforestation.​

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  4. Landscape near Rio Branco, Acre, Brazil.© Kate Evans/CIFOR

    Brazil under siege
    In 2015, nearly 6,000 square kilometers (3,600 square miles) of forests — the size of Cyprus or the state of Maine — were lost in 2015 in the Brazilian Amazon alone, cut or burned to build ranches, croplands and roads.

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  5. ci_45550834© CI/Terry Hills​

    15 million acres in Indonesia
    Indonesia has the highest deforestation rate in the world, losing 15 million acres of forest between 2000 and 2012.

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Stand Up for Forests, They Need You

The significance of forests on the health of the planet is immeasurable — providing our air, food and water. As trees disappear, deforestation will cost us all. Your donation will help us empower communities around the world to protect forests.

  1. Cattle in Brazil© CI/Peggy Poncelet

    80% due to agriculture
    Unsustainable agricultural expansion is the direct driver​ for around 80 percent of deforestation worldwide. Mining, infrastructure and urban expansion are the next most prominent drivers.

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  2. Road to Nimba, Liberia in great condition.© CI/Bailey Evans

    US$ 200 billion market
    Forest products account for about 1 percent of the world’s gross domestic product, and the total global market for commercial wood products — including logs, lumber, panels, pulp and paper — is more than US$ 200 billion per year.​

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  3. Man in forest with binoculars© Conservation International

    1 billion people
    More than 1 billion rural people depend on forests to some extent, and over 90 percent of people living in extreme poverty depend on forests for all or part of their livelihoods.

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  4. East Nimba Nature Reserve forest, Liberia.© CI/Bailey Evans

    11% of emissions
    When forests are cleared, they emit carbon dioxide. Eleven percent of global greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans can be blamed on deforestation — equivalent to the emissions from all the cars and trucks on Earth.

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  5. Beiradao, a slum along Jari's river margins in Brazil.© CI/Enrico Bernard

    Increasing pressure
    By 2050, the global demand for food could double. A more sustainable alternative is using existing farmland more efficiently, rather than clear more forests to grow food.​

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  6. View of the Amazon River basin from a small boat© CI/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.​​​

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Our Solutions

The value of the services that forests provide is immense, yet it remains largely invisible. When this value is invisible, forests lose: They cannot compete against the short-term windfall of timber or newly cleared land for agriculture.

Conservation International works to show that forests are worth more standing than cut down. By identifying the full values of forests, we can create powerful incentives to ensure that they remain standing and can continue to support us.


Conservation International is working to achieve zero net deforestation in Amazonia by 2020 to protect essential resources such as freshwater and carbon storage; help vulnerable communities adapt to the impacts of climate change; and increase prosperity for local people.


The landmark Paris Agreement explicitly endorsed a nature-based initiative called REDD+ (“red plus”), short for “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation,” which provides financial incentives for communities and countries to keep forests standing, thus reducing carbon emissions caused by deforestation.

Mapping natural capital

“Natural capital” is the source of the benefits that nature provides, such as fresh water, flood control and forest products (including cancer-treating drugs and other medicines). Determining the location of essential natural capital is the first step in helping a country account for the full value of nature and incorporate that into its sustainable development plans.

Valuing and accounting for natural capital

Natural capital supports human and financial capital: When climate change threatens nature, societies and economies are threatened, too. Conservation International is helping businesses quantify their impacts and reliance on natural capital to ensure can continue to provide into the future.

San Martín, Peru

CI works with San Martín’s indigenous peoples, exchanging traditional and science-based knowledge to help develop sustainable forestry practices. Our initiatives are designed to enhance the benefits nature provides that are essential to sustain agriculture, tourism, energy and other economic activities.


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