What Is Deforestation?

Deforestation is the clearing, destroying, or otherwise removal of trees through deliberate, natural, or accidental means. It can occur in any area densely populated by trees and other plant life, but the majority of it is currently happening in the Amazon rainforest. The loss of trees and other vegetation can cause climate change, desertification, soil erosion, fewer crops, flooding, increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and a host of problems for indigenous people.

Deforestation occurs for a number of reasons, including farming, with 80% of deforestation resulting from extensive cattle ranching, and logging for materials and development. It has been happening for thousands of years, arguably since man began converting from hunter/gatherer to agricultural based societies, and required larger, unobstructed tracks of land to accommodate cattle, crops, and housing. It was only after the onset of the modern era that it became an epidemic.

One football field of forest gone every second

Since 2016, 28 million hectares of forest have been cut down every year on average. That’s one football field of forest lost every SECOND of every day, year in and year out. From 2001 to 2018, a forest area larger than India was lost worldwide (3,610,000 square kilometres). The loss is equivalent to a 9 % reduction in global tree cover since 2000.

The Power of the Marketplace 

If corporations have the power to destroy the world’s forests, they also have the ability to help save them. Companies can make an impact by introducing and implementing “zero deforestation” policies that clean up their supply chains. That means holding their suppliers accountable for producing commodities like timber, beef, soy, palm oil and paper in a way that does not fuel deforestation and has a minimal impact on our climate. Companies not only must make these policies but they must follow through on these promises, maximize the use of their sphere of influence, and collaborate with other like-minded institutions in their sectors, demanding suppliers transform the way our economy works so that nature is protected and human rights are respected.

Companies should set ambitious targets to maximize the use of recycled wood, pulp, paper and fibre in their products. For the non-recycled products they buy, they should ensure that any virgin fibre used has transparent, credible assurances that it was sourced in a legal way that respects principles of environmental and social responsibility. But these corporations haven’t taken action on their own.

Standing with Indigenous People

Forests around the world have been home to Indigenous Peoples for tens of thousands of years. Evidence shows that when Indigenous Peoples’ rights to traditional lands and self-determination are respected, forests stay standing. But too often, corporations and governments overlook or intentionally trample the rights of Indigenous People.

Promoting Sustainable Choices

You can make a difference in the fight to save forests by making informed daily choices. By consuming less, avoiding single-use packaging, eating sustainable food, and choosing recycled or responsibly-produced wood products, we can all be part of the movement to protect forests.

Make choices for forests, nature, people — and do so vocally!

Changing the Politics

If we’re going to stop deforestation, we need governments to do their part. We need world leaders to embrace ambitious domestic and international forest conservation policies based on the latest science, allowing us to live in a world that avoids severe climate disruption.


  • Plant a Tree where you can and whenever you can, showing an example
  • Go paperless at home and in the office if possible or use alternative eco products
  • Buy recycled products and then recycle them again
  • Buy certified wood products. Read the labels and look for the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) mark
  • Support the products of companies that are committed to reducing deforestation. It’s all about business. If you don’t buy, they will be encouraged to improve their practices
  • Raise awareness in your circle and in your community, spread the voice!
  • Buy only what you will use and need
  • Don’t use Palm Oil or products made with palm oil, it is the cause of total deforestation in Borneo and the survival of Orangutans and Borneo Pygmy Elephants.

Environmental Effects of Deforestation from Above

Loss of Habitat

One of the most dangerous and unsettling effects of deforestation is the loss of animal and plant species due to their loss of habitat. 70% of land animals and plant species live in forests. Not only does deforestation threaten species known to us, but also those unknown. The trees of the rainforest that provide shelter for some species also provide the canopy that regulates the temperature. Deforestation results in a more drastic temperature variation from day to night, much like a desert, which could prove fatal for many inhabitants.

Increased Greenhouse Gases

In addition to the loss of habitat, the lack of trees also allows a greater amount of greenhouse gases to be released into the atmosphere. Healthy forests absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, acting as valuable carbon sinks. Deforested areas lose that ability and release more carbon into the atmosphere.

Water in the Atmosphere

The trees also help control the level of water in the atmosphere by helping to regulate the water cycle. In deforested areas, there is less water in the air to be returned to the soil. This then causes dryer soil and the inability to grow crops.

Environmental Effects of Deforestation From Below

Soil Erosion and Flooding

Further effects of deforestation include soil erosion and coastal flooding. Trees help the land to retain water and topsoil, which provides the rich nutrients to sustain additional forest life.

Without forests, the soil erodes and washes away, causing farmers to move on and perpetuate the cycle. The barren land which is left behind in the wake of these unsustainable agricultural practices is then more susceptible to flooding, specifically in coastal regions.

Effects of Deforestation on Indigenous People

Destruction of Homelands

As large amounts of forests are cleared away, allowing exposed earth to wither and die and the habitats of innumerable species to be destroyed, the indigenous communities who live there and depend on the forest to sustain their way of life are also under threat. The loss of forests has an immediate and direct effect on their lifestyle that we in the highly industrialized parts of the world, despite our own dependency on what the rainforest provides, will never know. The level of immediacy is exponentially greater for indigenous peoples.

The governments of nations with rainforests in their borders often attempt to evict indigenous tribes before the actual clear-cutting begins. This is one of the pre-emptive effects of deforestation