Forests cover approximately 30% of the planet’s surface. They’re a great source of food, medicine, and fuel for millions of people worldwide.
As deforestation statistics reveal, forests are also great for agriculture and grazing. The timber is excellent for fuel, manufacturing, and construction. All this leads to more deforestation.
What Are the Top 10 Essential Deforestation Facts and Statistics
- The world lost 20 million acres of primary forest between 1990 and 2020.
- Some 80% of the tropical rainforests are destroyed due to agriculture.
- By 2030, there may be only 10% of the rainforests left.
- Deforestation is the leading cause of 15% of carbon emissions.
- The US cities are losing 36 million trees every year.
- Since the 1600s, the US has destroyed 75% of virgin forests.
- 54% of the global forest loss occurred in Latin America.
- More than 99% of the original wooded areas in Haiti are deforested.
- Bolivia is the fifth leading country in deforestation.
- Deforestation affects Africa at twice the world rate.
If you want to know more about habitat destruction facts and other vital facts and statistics on global deforestation, keep reading.
Global Statistics on Deforestation
We lose millions of acres of land every year. If this doesn’t sound scary enough, let’s put it into another perspective. Each second we lose a forest the size of a football field. Let’s see some more scary statistics.
1. The world lost 20 million acres of primary forest between 1990 and 2020.
Even though the loss rate slowed down by half from 2010 to 2020, we’re still losing too much primary forest, according to the rainforest destruction facts.
Trees absorb the carbon dioxide that humans exhale, but they also trap the greenhouse gases we create every day.
Deforestation leaves animals without homes. But it also allows these gasses to go into the atmosphere, increasing global warming.
2. Every second, a forest the size of a football field is lost, according to the deforestation statistics for 2021.
(Live Science, The Guardian)
This means that every year the world loses 14,800 square miles of forest, which is an area of Switzerland’s size.
Since 2003, we’ve lost double the amount of global tree cover. Deforestation in essential tropical rainforests has also doubled since 2008.
3. In 2019, the world lost more than 8.9 million acres of tropical rainforests.
This is less than what was lost in 2016 and 2017. However, deforestation statistics from 2019 show that this was the third-highest record of annual deforestation since 2001. Brazil suffered the most significant loss.
4. Deforestation has decreased from 16 million to 10 million hectares a year, but the rates are still alarming.
The rates of deforestation in the 90s were 16 million ha a year. They did lower to 10 million ha between 2015 and 2020.
Still, deforestation continues. The demand for timber, palm oil, beef, and soy, is enormous as the rainforest deforestation statistics reveal.
5. Deforestation creates between $2 trillion and $4.5 trillion loss in biodiversity annually.
Approximately 80% of the planet’s land animals and plants live in forests. Deforestation has already destroyed millions of species’ natural habitats.
Moreover, deforestation doesn’t only affect animals’ habitats. Indigenous people are endangered, as well, since they rely on the rainforest to survive.
Deforestation Facts, Causes & Effects
Illegal logging and agriculture are some of the main culprits for deforestation. Sadly, having fewer forests isn’t the only consequence of land clearing. The aftermath is causing disastrous effects.
6. Illegal logging accounts for 50% to 90% of deforestation in the Amazon, Central Africa, and Southeast Asia.
There are four leading deforestation causes, with agriculture as the primary and logging as the second biggest cause.
The deforestation facts also reveal that urbanization is the third deforestation cause. 33% of all the houses in the United States are close to a forest. The fourth leading cause is wildfires.
7. Palm oil deforestation facts reveal it has caused a severe decline in the orangutan population.
The WWF has already classified the orangutan species as endangered. If the deforestation for palm oil plantations continues, the entire species will be extinct within the next 25 years.
This is because their lives depend on the rainforest.
8. Some 80% of the tropical rainforests are destroyed due to agriculture.
Statistics on deforestation show agriculture is the leading cause of rainforest deforestation. On the other hand, logging is the leading cause of forest degradation.
However, deforestation reasons depend on the region.
In Latin America, cattle ranching and large-scale agriculture are the leading causes of deforestation. In contrast, Indonesia’s main deforestation culprit is the palm oil industry.
9. By 2030, there may be only 10% of the rainforests left.
(The World Counts)
Deforested areas are very prone to erosion and flooding. According to deforestation facts on causes and effects, this is because of the lack of tree roots holding the solid down.
Additionally, more land is exposed to the sun without the tree cover, which eventually dries out the soil and makes it unsuitable for farming.
Moreover, erosion also contaminates streams and lakes, decreasing the quality of drinking water in the area.
10. Deforestation is the leading cause of 15% of carbon emissions.
(The World Counts)
According to rainforest deforestation facts, tropical rainforests store more than 210Gt of CO2 absorbed from the atmosphere.
Trees absorb greenhouse gases, and they produce oxygen and water vapor that they then release into the atmosphere.
However, after deforestation, these gases are released directly into the atmosphere, leading to global warming.
11. According to deforestation and climate change facts, Amazon’s carbon emissions rose by 9.6% in 2019.
Brazil managed to lower CO2 emissions from 2004 to 2012. Unfortunately, the trend went uphill and even increased by 9.6% in 2019. Brazil alone emitted 2.175 billion tons of CO2 in 2019.
The main reason for the reverse was the deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, as the Amazon deforestation facts reveal. Studies reveal that deforestation accounted for 44% of Amazon’s CO2 emissions.
The United States Deforestation Statistics
The US forest industry employs over a million people. If we keep up with the deforestation trends, not only we won’t have fresh air, but millions of people will lose jobs.
12. The US cities are losing 36 million trees every year.
As urban areas are developing and enriching cities’ skylines, the land is being cleared. When it comes to the loss of biodiversity facts, it is revealed that US cities lose on average 36 million trees a year due to urbanization.
Urban areas in the US are losing 175,000 acres of tree cover a year. 40% of that land is now covered in buildings and roads.
13. Since the 1600s, the US has destroyed 75% of virgin forests.
We have mentioned farming purposes, but the real reason for deforestation is money.
Facts about deforestation reveal that a significant number of people who live in highly forested areas get lured into deforestation by logging companies.
Loggers get the wood, and landowners end up with clear land, which can be further sold for even more money.
14. The US has lost 40.3Mha of tree cover from 2001 to 2019.
(Global Forest Watch)
This accounts for 14% of total tree cover loss since 2000, leading to deforestation. It also contributed to releasing 11.1Gt of CO2.
Deforestation statistics from 2020 reveal that Alaska, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida suffered the most significant tree cover losses.
15. Since 2010, the US has had 304,022,000 hectares of forested land.
This may seem like an enormous number, but it actually represents only a third of the country.
As the deforestation graph from 2020 shows, only 25% of this area is an old-growth forest, and 8% are tree farms and plantations. In comparison, 67% of the area is secondary forest, according to the deforestation in the United States statistics.
16. It’s estimated that 7.6% of the world’s forests are in the United States.
(FAO, US Forest Service)
This means that the US has the fourth-largest forest estate in the world.
Alaska has the most substantial percent of tree cover with its boreal forests. At the same time, the east is rich in deciduous forests.
Moreover, the south abounds in pine plantations. According to the stats of deforestation for the United States, the western US region is plentiful in dry coniferous forests.
17. The US forestry and forest product industry supports more than 1 million direct jobs.
Forestry is one of the most essential US employment sectors, with an average annual direct payroll of $55.4 billion.
When combined, direct, indirect, and induced impact of the US forestry and forestry-related businesses, they support 2.9 million total jobs. Their total payroll is estimated at $128.1 billion.
Deforestation in Canada Facts
Canada may have the lowest deforestation levels, yet they’re responsible for almost a third of the global primary forest loss.
18. Canada accounts for 0.3% of global deforestation.
(National Resources Canada)
Canada has the lowest rate of deforestation in the world. Their annual deforestation rate in 2010 was less than 0.02% and has been on a steady decline for more than 25 years.
From 1990 to 2014, Canada’s deforestation declined from 63,100 hectares to 34,200 hectares.
19. More than 20% of the world’s primary forest loss occurred in Canada.
Deforestation rates by country show that Canada’s deforestation rates are the lowest in the world. Still, they also reveal that Canada is responsible for the world’s most significant primary forest loss.
The majority of Canada’s forests grow back, but the rates of cutting the primary forests are still alarming.
20. Approximately 94% of forests in Canada are on public land.
(National Resources Canada)
Logging in Canada doesn’t lead to deforestation. Their laws require that every harvested tree on public land be reforested either by replanting or natural regeneration.
Deforestation Statistics and Facts for South America
South America is home to the biggest rainforest in the world. The “Earth’s Lungs,” also known as the Amazon rainforest, covers 2.6 million square miles. Impressive!
Unfortunately, Amazon rainforest deforestation facts show it used to be much bigger before people started clearing it.
The deforestation situation in South America is grave.
21. 54% of the global forest loss occurred in Latin America.
Moreover, data reveals that Bolivia, Peru, and Brazil account for 70% of global forest loss. Urbanization, logging, and agriculture play a massive role in deforestation in all three countries.
Yet, each country has a different main reason. Brazil’s cattle ranching accounts for 80% of deforestation. Peru’s illegal gold mining and Bolivia’s agriculture are two other culprits.
22. Amazon deforestation stats reveal that in the last 50 years, 17% of the Amazon has been deforested.
This may not seem like a large percentage, but only 3% more, and the Amazon rainforest will be past the point of salvation.
However, this is not only the case with the Amazon rainforest. The world’s rainforests are shrinking and will very soon reach the crisis point, as well.
23. Between 2004 and 2012, Brazil reduced the Amazon deforestation rates by two-thirds.
The deforestation rates in Brazil have decreased. The Amazon rainforest has started to regrow the millions of acres of forest that were previously lost.
Still, Brazil’s agribusiness has undermined the private sector’s efforts to regrow the forest.
24. From 2001 to 2019, Brazil lost around 56.5Mha of tree cover.
(Global Forest Watch)
It’s estimated that 66% of this tree cover loss happened due to urbanization.
Additionally, from 2001 to 2012, Brazil gained only 7.59Mha of tree cover. According to Brazil deforestation statistics, this accounts for only 9.4% of the global total.
25. About 1,740 square miles of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest were destroyed between 2017 and 2019.
Furthermore, 65% of these 1,740 square miles were deforested in 2019 alone.
Approximately 1,150 square miles were deforested due to the fires that scientists believe were started to clear the land for pasture and farms.
26. According to the Haiti deforestation facts, the country may completely lose its rainforests in just 20 years.
Haiti is in great danger of losing its rainforests if it doesn’t lower the deforestation rates.
Charcoal production and small-scale farming are the main culprits of Haiti’s deforestation. This is because they require wood to be harvested and heated to remove the water and volatile compounds.
27. Haiti has fewer than 100,000 acres of forest left.
Researchers have revealed some concerning facts on deforestation in Haiti. They claim that, just 500 years ago, three-quarters of the country was covered in forest.
Today, Haiti suffers the worst deforestation, and not only in the western hemisphere but in the world.
28. More than 99% of the original wooded areas in Haiti are deforested.
As a result, many amphibians, reptiles, and other vertebrates have lost their homes and eventually become extinct.
Additionally, deforestation in Latin America statistics also revealed that 42 of Haiti’s 50 largest mountains have entirely lost their primary forest.
29. Pic Macaya and La Visite, Haiti’s national parks, have lost between 60% and 75% of their primary forest cover since they became protected.
Despite being declared as protected lands, these national parks weren’t immune to deforestation.
The main problem is that there are only about 20 unarmed rangers and more than 200 teams of armed tree cutters.
Deforestation Rates in the World
Deforestation is a severe issue that affects the entire world. The rates at which we’re clearing the land are staggering. If we don’t slow down or find some alternatives, the situation will soon become hopeless.
30. Bolivia is the fifth leading country in deforestation.
Bolivia has seen enormous losses in primary tropical forests, mainly due to the soy industry. Rainforest deforestation facts reveal that the country has destroyed 154,488 hectares of forest.
Other countries that have destroyed their forests for the soy industry include Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.
31. In 2018 alone, Indonesia deforested approximately 440,000 hectares of land.
(World Resources Industry)
Deforestation in Indonesia facts show that the country has made significant progress in decreasing deforestation levels, compared to other tropical countries.
Indonesia reduced its annual deforestation rates by 40% in 2018, compared to the annual rates from 2002 to 2016. But the problematic areas still remain.
32. From 2001 to 2019, Indonesia lost 93% of tree cover in areas where deforestation is predominant.
(Global Forest Watch)
Indonesia had 93.8Mha of primary forest in 2001 and lost 324kha of it in 2019.
Deforestation statistics reveal that the primary forest covered more than 50% of Indonesia’s land area. Moreover, statistics show that this loss was the equivalent of 187Mt of CO2 emissions. This is also a 17% decrease in tree cover since 2000.
33. Deforestation affects Africa at twice the world rate.
(Sustainable Food Systems)
Deforestation in Africa facts show that, contrary to the rest of the world, Africa’s leading deforestation cause is human activity.
This is most probably due to firewood consumption rates being much higher than the growth rate of Africa’s trees per year.
34. Africa is losing 3.9 million hectares of forest every year.
Deforestation rates across the world are gradually slowing down except in Africa. Data shows that between 2000 and 2010, Africa was losing on average 3.4 million hectares of forest a year.
However, deforestation statistics report that the rates have grown to 3.9 million hectares between 2010 and 2020.
35. Deforestation brings new diseases, such as Covid-19.
When habitats are disrupted, animals come in contact with people and spread new diseases onto the human race. Deforestation facts reveal this is how HIV and Ebola viruses spread.
We got HIV from humans eating bushmeat, and the Ebola virus spread from fruit bats to human fruit fields. This is most likely how the Covid-19 pandemic started, although we still don’t have a solid proof.
36. What is deforestation?
A general deforestation meaning would be that it is a permanent removal of trees.
They are removed for land clearing for agriculture, cattle, construction, or wood for fuel and manufacturing.
37. How many trees are lost to deforestation each year?
More than 7 million hectares of forest, or 3.5 billion to 7 billion trees, are cut down every year because of deforestation.
38. How much deforestation happens every day?
Some interesting facts state that every second, 1.5 acres of wood are cut down, which means that every minute the planet loses forest land the size of 20 football fields.
39. How many animals die from deforestation?
Deforestation has killed over 50% of animal species so far, and the planet is amidst the sixth mass extinction. Additionally, 27% of all planet’s species are in danger of becoming extinct.
40. What are the 5 effects of deforestation?
Deforestation is responsible for climate change, global warming, animal extinction, and loss of biodiversity. There is also the risk of flooding and erosion, which also causes water pollution.
41. How do we stop deforestation?
One of the possible deforestation solutions is replanting the trees in cleared areas. Sustainable farming practices and new farming technologies and crops could also lead to less deforestation.
42. Why should we stop deforestation?
There’s a significant number of reasons to stop deforestation, but reducing global warming and stabilizing the climate are the two most important ones.
Stopping deforestation would also mean preserving the natural habitat and lives of numerous animal and plant species.
43. What is the number 1 cause of deforestation?
Production of timber, clearing space for cattle ranches, palm oil plantations, and growing soy all contribute to deforestation, even though there are many more causes.
Hopefully, these scary deforestation statistics will help everyone understand the adverse effects of deforestation on our lives and the planet.
Every person can help in making a change and improving our planet.
By planting a tree, using recycled products, and supporting companies committed to reducing deforestation, anyone can make a difference and contribute to a better world.
- Al Jazeera
- Business Insider
- Conserve Energy Future
- Global Forest Watch
- Global Forest Watch
- Global Forest Watch
- Greenpeace USA
- Live Science
- Mighty Earth
- National Resources Canada
- Pacific Standard
- Ressources Magazine
- Seattle PI
- Sustainable Food Systems
- The Balance
- The Guardian
- The Guardian
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- The World Counts
- US Forest Service
- World Resources Industry