Deforestation Has Far-Reaching Consequences, Including The Loss of Biodiversity

Anurag Sharma
Anurag Sharma

Updated · Oct 20, 2023


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According to Deforestation Statistics, Deforestation is the process of clearing or removal of forests or woodlands, typically for agriculture, logging, or urbanization. It is a significant environmental issue with far-reaching consequences for biodiversity, climate change, and human livelihoods. Deforestation has been a cause for concern globally due to its detrimental effects on the planet.

Editor’s Choice

  • Approximately 14.8 million hectares of forest are lost as of June 2023.
  • The world’s forests have decreased by about 31% since the beginning of agriculture.
  • The largest contributor to deforestation is agricultural expansion, accounting for about 70% of deforestation in tropical regions.
  • The Amazon rainforest has experienced significant, with over 17% of the forest cover lost in the last 50 years.
  • Southeast Asia has one of the highest deforestation rates globally, with an estimated loss of 15.8 million hectares between 2001 and 2022.
  • Deforestation contributes to approximately 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions, making it a significant driver of climate change.
  • Deforestation affects biodiversity, with an estimated 80% of terrestrial species living in forests.

Deforestation Worldwide

  • 10,000 years ago, 71% of the Earth’s land surface (10.6 billion hectares) was covered by forests, shrubs, and wild grasslands.
  • Today, approximately half of this land is predominantly used for agriculture, grazing, and urban settlements.
  • The current total surface covered by forests and grasslands has decreased to around 4.1 billion hectares.
  • Forest loss is occurring at a rapid pace, equivalent to losing forests at a rate of 27 soccer fields per minute.
  • Over 4.2 million hectares of tree cover was lost in Russia, which includes both deforestation and natural causes such as fire.
  • Approximately 3.3 million hectares of tree cover were lost in Brazil.
  • Global tree cover loss has exceeded 20 million hectares per year for most of the past decade.
  • As of 2021, the Southeast Asian rainforest was estimated to be a net carbon emitter, with emissions exceeding its removal capacity. In the Amazon, emissions, and sinks were nearly balanced.
  • Large-scale forestry operations in managed forests and tree plantations led to the loss of approximately 6.7 billion hectares of tree cover. Commodity-driven deforestation and urbanization contributed to around 4.9 million hectares of tree cover loss.

Causes of Deforestation

  • Agricultural Expansion
    • Agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, accounting for approximately 80% of deforestation worldwide.
    • Small-scale farmers are responsible for 25% of global deforestation, while commercial agriculture contributes to the remaining 75%.
  • Logging
    • Logging for timber and wood products is a significant driver of deforestation, especially in tropical rainforests.
    • It is estimated that logging accounts for around 15%.
  • Infrastructure Development
    • The construction of roads, dams, mining operations, and urban expansion leads to deforestation.
    • Infrastructure development is responsible for roughly 10%.
  • Forest Fires
    • Forest fires, both natural and human-caused, contribute to deforestation.
    • While natural fires are a natural part of some ecosystems, human-induced fires, such as slash-and-burn agriculture, exacerbate deforestation.
    • Forest fires are responsible for approximately 5%.
  • Fuelwood Collection and Charcoal Production
    • The reliance on wood fuel for cooking and heating in many developing countries drives deforestation.
    • Fuelwood collection and charcoal production account for about 5%.
  • Mining and Extraction
    • Mining activities, including minerals, oil, and gas, often involve clearing forests and destroying ecosystems.
    • Mining contributes to approximately 7%.

Environmental Impact

  • Each year, approximately 50,000 species are lost.
  • Rainforest ingredients contribute to 25% of Western drugs and pharmaceuticals.
  • The rainforest is a vital source of 25% of all cancer-fighting drugs.
  • Alarmingly, 75% of tropical rainforests have lost their ability to adequately recover from wildfires and drought.
  • Deforestation is a major driver of biodiversity loss, with an estimated 80% of terrestrial biodiversity residing in forests.
  • Every minute, an area equivalent to 27 football fields is lost, resulting in the extinction of countless plant and animal species.
  • Deforestation accounts for approximately 10% to 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Tropical alone is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions, more than the entire global transportation sector.

Deforestation in Amazon

  • The Amazon rainforest lost approximately 8,054 square kilometers (3,103 square miles) of forest cover in 2020.
  • Between 2000 and 2020, the Amazon rainforest lost around 513,016 square kilometers (198,077 square miles) of forest, an area roughly equivalent to the size of Spain.
  • The annual deforestation rate in the Brazilian Amazon decreased by 70% between 2004 and 2019, from 27,772 square kilometers (10,722 square miles) to 8,054 square kilometers (3,103 square miles).
  • The main drivers in the Brazilian Amazon are illegal logging, large-scale agriculture (primarily cattle ranching and soybean production), and infrastructure development.
  • The Brazilian Amazon contains a network of protected areas, including national parks, sustainable use reserves, and indigenous territories, covering approximately 45% of the region.
  • The Amazon rainforest is one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet, housing an estimated 10% of the world’s known species. It poses a severe threat to this unique ecosystem and its wildlife.

Deforestation Statistics by Country

  • Brazil: Between August 2019 and July 2020, Brazil lost 11,088 square kilometers of forest, a 9.5% increase compared to the previous year.
  • Indonesia: From 2001 to 2019, Indonesia lost approximately 26.6 million hectares of forest, making it one of the highest deforestation rates globally.
  • Democratic Republic of Congo: The Democratic Republic of Congo lost an average of 0.48 million hectares of forest per year between 2001 and 2019.
  • Malaysia: Malaysia lost around 2.9 million hectares of forest between 2001 and 2019.
  • Bolivia: Between 2001 and 2019, Bolivia lost approximately 7.8 million hectares of forest.
  • Paraguay: Paraguay lost around 3.7 million hectares of forest between 2001 and 2019.
  • Cambodia: Cambodia lost approximately 1.5 million hectares of forest between 2001 and 2019.
  • Myanmar (Burma): Myanmar lost around 5.2 million hectares of forest between 2001 and 2019.
  • Nigeria: Nigeria lost approximately 4.6 million hectares of forest between 2001 and 2019.
  • Australia: Australia lost around 6.3 million hectares of forest between 2001 and 2019.
Anurag Sharma

Anurag Sharma

He has been helping in business of varied scales, with key strategic decisions. He is a specialist in healthcare, medical devices, and life-science, and has accurately predicted the trends in the market. Anurag is a fervent traveller, and is passionate in exploring untouched places and locations. In his free time, he loves to introspect and plan ahead.