Deforestation is clearing Earth's forests on a massive scale, often resulting in damage to the quality of the land. Forests still cover about 30 percent of the world’s land area, but swaths half the size of England are lost each year.
The world’s rain forests could completely vanish in a hundred years at the current rate of deforestation.
The biggest driver of deforestation is agriculture. Farmers cut forests to provide more room for planting crops or grazing livestock. Often, small farmers will clear a few acres by cutting down trees and burning them in a process known as slash and burn agriculture.
Logging operations, which provide the world’s wood and paper products, also cut countless trees each year. Loggers, some of them acting illegally, also build roads to access more and more remote forests—which leads to further deforestation. Forests are also cut as a result of growing urban sprawl as land is developed for dwellings.
Not all deforestation is intentional. Some is caused by a combination of human and natural factors like wildfires and subsequent overgrazing, which may prevent the growth of young trees.
Never miss a Nat Geo moment
Join our curious community and you'll have access to some great features!
Personalised content reflecting your interests on the site
Watch exclusive videos before anyone else
Favourite content that you like or want to check out later
Free SMS and Email reminders so you never miss a show
Get notified when content that interests you is published
Share your photos on Snap! that could appear on TV
Share your thoughts and opinions on various matters
Receive a monthly newsletter with loads of great content