20 Shocking Facts About Deforestation

It’s common knowledge that the rainforests are being pillaged at an alarming rate. This collection of 20 shocking facts about deforestation will rattle you to the core. How is it possible that mankind can get away with such heinous crimes? They’re not just trees, the rainforests are the lungs of the world. The Amazon rainforest is home to thousands of species, many endangered or on the endangered list. Few of them are thriving, and it’s all down to humans.

18 million acres of forest are destroyed each year, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation. Most of this is for timber for construction and manufacturing. A large proportion is also for livestock to graze on; this is the unseen monster of farmed meat, not to mention the treatment of the animals themselves.

The good news is that if people are the ones who cause the damage, at least we can put it right. How likely that is, with all the corruption and deceit, especially in the countries of origin, is unlikely if we’re being honest with ourselves.

What is Deforestation?

Deforestation is the cutting and clearing of forested land so it can be converted into non-forest use. The land can then be used for housebuilding, farms, ranches, and other urban uses. Although deforestation occurs throughout the world, the most concentrated deforestation occurs in tropical rainforests, mostly spanning the equator.

Currently, around 31% of the earth’s land mass is covered by forests, so the potential for damage is huge. Because of the vast expanse of forestry and its isolation, policing illegal logging is difficult and dangerous. The logging gangs are often run by criminal groups that are better armed than the local police.

How Does Deforestation Impact the Environment?

Removing large swathes of the forest is harmful to the environment in many ways. It can cause both ecological and biodiversity imbalances. These complex ecostructures are easy to damage but can take a long time to recover.

The most important aspect of the rainforest is the trees themselves, for, without the trees, there isn’t a home for the animals and plants to live in. It provides water, shade, and nutrients for endless life forms. millions of insects. Countless bird and animal species also rely on this ecological masterpiece of natural engineering, billions of years in the making.

 Demoralizing Deforestation Facts

  1. In the last two decades, Afghanistan has lost 70% of its forests to logging.
  2. Corruption is a large part of the deforestation problem. Criminals are paying off dodgy politicians, who ignore legislation or sign bogus agreements to allow logging legally.
  3. The Amazon rainforest alone is said to produce 20% of the world’s oxygen supply. Imagine how difficult breathing will become if the rainforests disappear altogether… 
  4. Taking the previous point into account, it is estimated that within 100 years all the world’s rainforests will have disappeared or at least be so small to be insignificant. 
  5. Every minute it is said that the Earth loses the size of twenty football fields of the rainforest. If anything this figure will only increase as demand for timber goes up.
  6. There are well over 100 natural medicines that are known to originate from the rainforest. Aspirin is derived from one plant that indigenous tribes have taken for thousands of years.
  7. The United States of America has approximately 5% of the world’s population, yet they use 30% of the world’s paper. This figure seems even more shocking when you’d expect a developed country like America to be on the Internet rather than using paper.
  8. In the next 25 years alone, it is estimated that almost 30,000 species of plants and animals will become extinct due to the deforestation of their natural environment.
  9. 25% of the world’s cancer-fighting organisms are found in the Amazon rainforest.
  10. Amazingly humans have already cleared over half of the world’s forests.
  11. Every hour 4500 acres of beautiful rainforest are cleared. Most of this is by the bulldozer, chainsaw, or machete, but regardless of which tool is used, it is mankind doing the cutting and clearing.
  12. Every second one-and-a-half acres of forest are cleared.
  13. 20% of the world’s population relies on the forest or its products for their livelihood. This puts even more pressure on the rainforests. Ironically most of the products aren’t used locally, but elsewhere in the world.
  14. Agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation. Cattle require huge amounts of land to live and graze on. This leads to the double problem of fewer trees to remove greenhouse gases, but increased greenhouse gases from the livestock.
  15. Approximately 30% of the world’s landmass is covered by forests.
  16. Trees remove carbon from the air and produce oxygen in return.
  17. Fuel wood in sub-Saharan Africa accounts for over 2000% more than timber is replaced by growing trees. Thankfully Ethiopia has seen how detrimental this is to their environment and has recently planted millions of trees. In fact, they planted 350 million trees in 12 hours.
  18. Industrialized countries use up to 12 times more of the materials derived from forests than the local population. This ensures that the often poor people who live nearby are the victims of deforestation. Perhaps if people from the developed world lived nearby they would kick up more of a fuss. Though being realistic, it’s usually the case of out of sight, out of mind.
  19. Half of the world’s timber and up to 70% of the paper products are consumed by the United States, Europe, and Japan.
  20. Deforestation affects the globe in many different ways. On a local level, it is usually soil erosion from flooding that can be one of the most dangerous. It can cause landslides, and flood small villages, which don’t usually have the manpower to rescue people as they do in a city.

How Can I Help the Rainforest?

For most people, the rainforest is many thousands of miles away, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help. Most of the products that indirectly harm the rainforest are bought at your local supermarket in Europe or the United States. For starters, you can boycott any product that is known to be harmful to forests. 

Do your research! The Internet is a wonderful tool that you can use to educate yourself. Read about the environmental damage that goes on in the world. Don’t just believe the first thing you read, because there is a lot of fake news still online, even though Google and Facebook are supposedly trying to eliminate it. They can’t watch every website or social media account, so make sure you know the truth.

There are many good organizations that look out for animals and the environment. Read their blog posts, and you will soon become an educated eco-warrior. It doesn’t mean you have to show up at demonstrations, but you can try and live your life in a way that doesn’t harm the world’s ecosystems. While it is probably difficult to inflict zero harm, no matter how hard you try, as long as you’re being positive and encouraging others, that is something to be proud of.

Remember, you might not have the chainsaw in your hand, but you have the buying power. You don’t have to buy things from Amazon to save a few pennies. Buy locally at your fruit and vegetable store with a reusable bag. It’s not hard to make a difference!

What tips have you got to help save the environment? Let us know in the comments.

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