Forests cover approximately 30% of the planet’s surface, and they are a great source of food, medicine, and fuel for millions of people around the globe. In addition to this, millions of people are also employed in the forest industry. However, as deforestation statistics reveal, forests are also great for agriculture and grazing, and the timber is excellent for fuel, manufacturing, and construction, which leads to more deforestation.
Today, most deforestation is happening in the tropics, where the land is cleared for grazing, agriculture, and palm tree plantations.
Keep reading to discover more about the causes of deforestation, deforestation effects, and solutions to deforestation.
But let’s first take a look at some of the most important facts and figures on deforestation:
Top 10 Essential Deforestation Facts and Statistics
- During the last year, the world lost more than 8.9 million acres of tropical rainforests.
- Deforestation creates a $4.5 trillion loss in biodiversity annually.
- Illegal logging is responsible for 50% to 90% of deforestation in the Amazon, Central Africa, and Southeast Asia.
- Approximately 80% of tropical rainforests have been deforested due to agriculture.
- By 2030, there may be only 10% of the rainforests left.
- Deforestation is the main cause of 15% of carbon emissions.
- According to the Haiti deforestation facts, the country may completely lose its rainforests in just 20 years.
- Bolivia is the fifth leading country in deforestation.
- In 2018 alone, Indonesia deforested approximately 440,000 hectares of land.
- Africa is losing 9.9 million acres of forest every year.
If you want to know more about habitat degradation, how deforestation and climate change are connected, and why we should stop land clearing, take a look at this list of statistics.
Global Statistics on Deforestation
1. The world lost more than 502,000 square miles of forest between 1990 and 2016.
Trees absorb the carbon dioxide that humans exhale, but they also trap the greenhouse gases created by people’s everyday activities. Moreover, deforestation doesn’t only leave 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 world deforestation statistics.
(Live Science) (The Guardian)
This means that, every year, the world loses 14,800 square miles of forest, which is an area the size of Switzerland. Furthermore, since 2003, we’ve lost double the amount of global tree cover, and deforestation in essential tropical rainforests has also doubled since 2008.
3. During the last year, the world has lost more than 8.9 million acres of tropical rainforests.
Even though this is less than what was lost in 2016 and 2017, deforestation statistics from 2019 show that this was the third-highest record of annual deforestation since the recording started in 2001, with Brazil suffering the biggest loss.
4. Even though the tropical rainforest deforestation has decreased by more than one-third, tropical rainforests could disappear in about 100 years.
(The Washington Post)
The rates of tropical deforestation have lowered, but deforestation still continues because of the enormous demand for timber, palm oil, beef, and soy, as the rainforest deforestation statistics reveal.
5. Deforestation creates a $4.5 trillion loss in biodiversity annually.
Approximately 80% of the planet’s land animals and plants live in forests, and deforestation has already destroyed the natural habitats of millions of species. 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
6. Illegal logging is responsible for 50% to 90% of deforestation in the Amazon, Central Africa, and Southeast Asia.
There are four main deforestation causes, with agriculture as the main, and logging as the second biggest cause. In addition to this, urbanization is the third deforestation cause – 33% of all the houses in the United States are close to a forest. The fourth main cause is wildfires.
7. Palm oil deforestation facts reveal that palm oil deforestation has caused a 50% decline in the orangutan population.
(The Great Projects)
The WWF has already classified the orangutan species as endangered, and if the deforestation for palm oil plantations continues, the entire species will be extinct within the next 25 years, since their lives depend on the rainforest.
8. Approximately 80% of the tropical rainforests are destroyed due to agriculture.
Deforestation for agriculture statistics show that agriculture is the main cause of rainforest deforestation, while logging is the main cause of forest degradation. However, deforestation reasons depend on the region. In Latin America, cattle ranching and large-scale agriculture are the main causes of deforestation, while 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, and according to deforestation facts on causes and effects, this is because there are no tree roots to hold the soil down. Additionally, without the tree cover, more land is exposed to the sun, which eventually dries out the land 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 main cause of 15% of carbon emissions.
(The World Counts)
According to deforestation and global warming facts, tropical rainforests store more than 210 gigatons of carbon dioxide that they have 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. Between 2015 and 2017, around 4.8 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide were released into the atmosphere annually, according to deforestation and climate change facts.
This accounts for approximately 8% to 10% of the annual carbon human emission. The process of storing carbon and releasing oxygen is pretty active compared to storing the carbon underground. Carbon stored underground can be found in the form of gas, oil, and coal, and is more stable than the carbon in trees, because it needs to be burnt by humans to reach the atmosphere.
The United States Deforestation Statistics
12. Close to 46% of the United States was forested in 1630.
The beginning of the European settlement brought on large scales of deforestation in the US, and approximately 423 million hectares of the total land area was deforested. By 2015, only 33.9% of the total US land area was forested.
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 great 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 38.2Mha of tree cover from 2001 to 2018.
(Global Forest Watch)
This accounts for 14% of total tree cover loss since 2000, and it has led to deforestation. Deforestation statistics from 2018 reveal that Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Louisiana suffered the greatest 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. Only 25% of this area is an old-growth forest, and 8% are tree farms and plantations, while 67% of the area is secondary forest, according to the deforestation in the United States statistics.
16. It’s estimated that 8% of the world’s forests are in the United States.
(US Forest Service)
This means that the US has the fourth-largest forest estate in the world. Alaska has the largest percent of tree cover with its boreal forests, while the east is rich in deciduous forests. Moreover, the south abounds in pine plantations, and the western region of the US is plentiful in dry coniferous forests, according to the deforestation statistics for the United States.
17. The US forestry and forest product industry employs 953,000 people.
Forestry is one of the most important sectors in US employment, with the average annual payroll of $53 billion. Every year, the US forest product industry produces approximately 11.97 billion cubic feet of industrial roundwood, which is, due to deforestation, significantly less than just ten years ago, as the deforestation rates in the US report.
18. About 56% of forests in the US are in private ownership.
(US Forest Service)
The US forest service manages approximately 77 million acres of federal land, also known as national forests and national grasslands, which makes up for about 20% of the total US forest land. The rest of the forest land is managed by local, tribal, state, and federal governments. In addition to this, the majority of the US states have at least one national forest or grassland.
Deforestation in Canada Facts
19. 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.
20. More than 20% of the world’s primary forest loss occurred in Canada.
Even though the deforestation rates by country show that Canada’s deforestation rates are the lowest in the world, they also reveal that Canada is responsible for the world’s greatest primary forest loss. The majority of Canada’s forests grow back, but the rates of cutting the primary forests are still alarming.
21. Approximately 94% of forests in Canada are on public land.
(National Resources Canada)
Logging in Canada doesn’t lead to deforestation, because their laws require that every harvested tree on public land has to be reforested either by replanting or through natural regeneration.
Deforestation in South America Statistics
22. 54% of the global forest loss occurred in Latin America.
A 2015 study has revealed that more than half of the world’s lost natural forests were in Latin America. Approximately 108 million out of 191.5 million acres were lost due to deforestation. Another study has also revealed that 80% of the total forest in Latin America were deforested by Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, and Paraguay, during the 2000s.
23. 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 – all of the world’s rainforests are shrinking, and will very soon reach the crisis point, as well.
24. Between 2004 and 2012, Brazil reduced the Amazon deforestation rates by two thirds.
Even though the deforestation rates in Brazil have decreased, and the Amazon rainforest has started to regrow the millions of acres of forest that were previously lost, Brazil’s agribusiness has undermined the private sector’s efforts to regrow the forest.
25. From 2001 to 2018, Brazil lost around 53Mha 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, and according to the Brazil deforestation statistics, this accounts for only 9.4% of the global total.
26. About 1,740 square miles of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest was 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.
27. 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 because they require wood to be harvested and heated to remove the water and volatile compounds.
28. Haiti has fewer than 100,000 acres of forest left.
A 2010 research has revealed some concerning facts on deforestation in Haiti claiming 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.
29. More than 99% of the original wooded areas in Haiti are deforested.
As a result, numerous species of amphibians, reptiles, and other vertebrates have lost their homes and eventually become extinct. Additionally, deforestation in Latin America statistics also reveal that 42 of the 50 largest mountains in Haiti have completely lost their primary forest.
30. Pic Macaya and La Visite, Haiti’s national parks, have lost between 60% and 75% of their primary forest cover since they became protected 35 years ago.
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
31. Bolivia is the fifth leading country in deforestation.
Bolivia has seen great losses in primary tropical forests, mainly due to the soy industry. Statistics 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.
32. In 2018 alone, Indonesia deforested approximately 440,000 hectares of land.
(World Resources Industry)
Deforestation in Indonesia facts show that, recently, Indonesia has made great progress in decreasing deforestation levels, compared to other tropical countries. Even though Indonesia has reduced its annual deforestation rates by 40% in 2018, compared to the annual rates from 2002 to 2016, the problematic areas still remain.
33. Indonesia had 93Mha of primary forest in 2001, and in 2018, it lost 340kha of it.
(Global Forest Watch)
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 198Mt of carbon dioxide emissions and a 16% decrease in tree cover since 2000. Furthermore, Indonesia had 137Mha of natural forest in 2010, which covered 73% of its land area, and it lost 907kha of it in 2018.
34. Deforestation affects Africa at twice the world rate.
Deforestation in Africa facts show that, contrary to the rest of the world, Africa’s main deforestation cause is human activity, since fuelwood in Africa is consumed 200% times more than the growth rate of Africa’s trees per year.
35. Africa is losing 9.9 million acres of forest every year.
Researchers have estimated that 31% of pasture lands in Africa and 19% of forests and woodlands can be classified as degraded. Deforestation facts also report that the deforestation rates in Sub-Saharan African countries are higher than the global annual average of 0.8%.
36. The coastal forests of Tanzania and Kenya have only 10% of their original area left.
Even though Eastern Africa has very rich and biologically diverse areas, unique mountain forests, miombo woodlands, and remnant coastal forests, as well as a rich mosaic of coral reefs, mangroves, lowland forests, and savanna woodlands, deforestation statistics show that this region also has the highest poverty rates in the world. Moreover, since 70% to 90% of Africa’s population cooks with fuelwood, it’s not hard to see why the forest area has been reduced to 10%.
What is deforestation?
A general deforestation definition would be that it is a permanent removal of trees – land clearing for agriculture, cattle, construction, or for the purpose of using the wood for fuel and manufacturing.
How many trees are lost to deforestation each year?
A 2016 research revealed that every year, more than 7 million hectares of forest, or 3.5 billion to 7 billion trees, are cut down because of deforestation.
What are some fun facts about deforestation?
(Conserve Energy Future)
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.
How many animals are killed by deforestation each year?
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.
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.
How can 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.
Why should we stop deforestation?
There’s a great number of reasons to stop deforestation, but to reduce global warming and stabilize the climate are some of the main ones. Stopping deforestation would also mean preserving the natural habitat and lives of numerous animal and plant species.
Why is deforestation happening?
(The World Counts)
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 negative effects that deforestation has 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 that are committed to reducing deforestation, anyone can make a difference and contribute to a better world.
- Business Insider
- Climate Council
- Conserve Energy Future
- Global Forest Watch
- Global Forest Watch
- Global Forest Watch
- Live Science
- Mighty Earth
- National Geographic
- National Resources Canada
- Pacific Standard
- Seattle PI
- The Balance
- The Great Projects
- The Guardian
- The Washington Post
- The World Counts
- The World Counts
- US Forest Service
- World Resources Industry