Deforestation by continent

Rates and causes of deforestation vary from region to region around the world. In 2009, two-thirds of the world's forests were located in just 10 countries: Russia, Brazil, Canada, The United States, China, Australia, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, India, and Peru.[1]

This graph shows values of total forest cover for various regions and sub-regions of the world using FAO data, with deforestation in some areas and reforestation in others.

Global annual deforestation is estimated at 13.7 million hectares a year, equal to the area of Greece. Half of this area is compensated by new forests or forest growth. In addition to direct human-induced deforestation, growing forests have also been affected by climate change. The Kyoto protocol includes the agreement to prevent deforestation, but not the actions to fulfill it.[1]

The rate of global tree cover loss has approximately doubled since 2001, to an annual loss approaching an area the size of Italy.[2]
Home to much of the Amazon rainforest, Brazil's tropical primary (old-growth) forest loss greatly exceeds that of other countries.[3]

Global analysis

An analysis of global deforestation patterns in 2021 showed that patterns of trade, production, and consumption are driving rates in complex ways. While the location of deforestation can be mapped, these locations don't always match where the commodity is consumed. For example, consumption patterns in G7 countries are estimated to cause an average loss of 3.9 trees per person per year. In other words, deforestation can be directly related to imports - for example, that of coffee.[4][5]


By 2008, Africa was estimated to be suffering deforestation at twice the world rate, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).[6][7][8] Some sources claim that deforestation has already wiped out roughly 90% of West Africa's original forests.[9][10] Deforestation is accelerating in Central Africa.[11] According to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Africa lost the highest percentage of tropical forests of any continent during the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s.[12] According to the figures from the FAO (1997), only 22.8% of West Africa's moist forests remain, much of them degraded.[13] Nigeria has lost 81% of its old-growth forests in just 15 years (1990–2005).[14] Massive deforestation threatens food security in some African countries.[15] One factor contributing to the continent's high rates of deforestation is the dependence of 90% of its population on wood as fuel for heating and cooking.[16]

Research carried out by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in 2006 shows that rates of illegal logging in Africa vary from 50% in Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea to 70% in Gabon and 80% in Liberia,[17] where timber revenues played a major role in financing the Sierra Leone Civil War[18] and other regional armed conflicts until the UN Security Council imposed a ban on all Liberian timber in 2003.[19]

The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Deforestation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been caused partly by unregulated logging and mining, but mostly by the demands made by the subsistence activities of a poor population. In the east of the country, for example, more than 3 million people live less than a day's walk from Virunga National Park. Wood from the park's forests is used by many of those people as firewood, lumber for construction, and for the production of charcoal. Deforestation caused by subsistence living is an acute threat to the park in general, and the habitat of the critically endangered mountain gorilla in particular.[20] From 2014 to 2018, the rate of tree-felling in the Democratic Republic of Congo doubled.[21][22]


The main cause of deforestation in the East African country of Ethiopia is a growing population and subsequent higher demand for agriculture, livestock production, and fuelwood.[23] Other reasons include low education and inactivity from the government,[24] although the current government has taken some steps to tackle deforestation.[25] Organizations such as Farm Africa are working with the federal and local governments to create a system of forest management.[26] Ethiopia, the third largest country in Africa by population, has been hit by famine many times because of shortages of rain and depletion of natural resources. Deforestation has lowered the chance of getting rain, which is already low, and thus causes erosion. Berkeley Bayisa, an Ethiopian farmer, offers one example of why deforestation occurs in his observation that his district was once forested and full of wildlife, but that overpopulation caused people to come and clear it to plant crops, cutting all trees to sell as firewood.[27]

Ethiopia has lost 98% of its forested regions in the last 50 years.[26] At the beginning of the 20th century, around 420,000 km2 (160,000 sq mi) or 35% of Ethiopia's land was covered with forests. Recent reports indicate that forests now cover less than 14.2%[26] or even only 11.9% as of 2005.[28] Between 1990 and 2005, the country lost 14% of its forests or 21,000 km2 (8,100 sq mi).


In 1963, Kenya had a forest cover of some 10 percent; by 2006, it had only 1.7 percent.[29]


Deforestation,[30] with resulting desertification, water resource degradation , and soil loss has affected approximately 94% of Madagascar's previously biologically productive lands. Since the arrival of humans 2000 years ago, Madagascar has lost more than 90% of its original forest.[31] Most of this loss has occurred since independence from the French and is the result of local people using slash-and-burn agricultural practices as they try to subsist.[32]


According to the FAO, Nigeria has the world's highest deforestation rate of primary forests. It has lost more than half of its primary forest in the last five years. The causes cited are logging, subsistence agriculture, and the collection of fuelwood. Almost 90% of West Africa's rainforest has been destroyed.[33]



Yoichi Kuroda sketches a history and current outline of 'large scale land and landscape destruction' here. See also Mudslides and Erosion.


Russia has the largest area of forests of any country on Earth, with around 12 million km2 of boreal forest, larger than the Amazon rainforest. Russia's forests contain 55% of the world's conifers and represent 11% of biomass on Earth. It is estimated that 20,000 km2 (7,700 sq mi) are deforested each year.[34] Areas nearer to China are most affected, as it is the main source for timber.[35] Deforestation in Russia is particularly damaging as the forests have a short growing season due to extremely cold winters and therefore take longer to recover.


Deforestation in India is the widespread destruction of major forests in India. It is mainly caused by environmental degradation by stakeholders such as farmers, ranches, loggers and plantation corporations. In 2009, India ranked 10th worldwide in the amount of forest loss,[36] where world annual deforestation is estimated as 13.7 million hectares (34×10^6 acres) a year.[36]

Sri Lanka

NASA satellite view of Sri Lanka revealing sparser areas of forest to the north and east of the island
Deforestation is one of the most serious environmental issues in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka's current forest cover as of 2017 was 29.7%.[37] In the 1920s, the island had a 49 percent forest cover but by 2005 this had fallen by approximately 26 percent. (29.46% in 2018)[38] Between 1990 and 2000, Sri Lanka lost an average of 26,800 ha of forests per year.[39] This amounts to an average annual deforestation rate of 1.14%.[39] Between 2000 and 2005 the rate accelerated to 1.43% per annum. However, with a long history of policy and laws towards environmental protection, deforestation rates of primary cover have decreased 35% since the end of the 1990s thanks to a strong history of conservation measures.[39] The problem of deforestation in Sri Lanka is not as significant in the southern mountainous regions as it is in northern and lowland southern Sri Lanka, largely due to the nature of environmental protection.[40]

Southeast Asia

Forest loss is acute in Southeast Asia,[41] the second of the world's great biodiversity hot spots.[42] According to a 2005 report conducted by the FAO, Vietnam has the second highest rate of deforestation of primary forests in the world, second to only Nigeria.[43] More than 90% of the old-growth rainforests of the Philippine Archipelago have been cut.[44] Other Southeast Asian countries where major deforestation is ongoing are Cambodia and Laos. According to a documentary by TelePool, deforestation is being directed by corrupt military personnel and the government (forestry services).[45]


Illegal deforestation near Saen Monourom, Mondulkiri Province, Cambodia

Deforestation in Cambodia has increased in recent years. Cambodia is one of the world's most forest endowed countries, that was not historically widely deforested. However, massive deforestation for economic development threatens its forests and ecosystems. As of 2015, the country has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world.[46]

Deforestation has directly resulted from poorly managed commercial logging, fuel wood collection, agricultural invasion, and infrastructure and urban development. Indirect pressures include rapid population growth, inequalities in land tenure, lack of agriculture technology, and limited employment opportunities.[47]

The Cambodian government has played a large role in shaping the use of the country's forests. An unusually large area of Cambodia has been designated as protected areas and biodiversity corridors, over 38% (more than 7 million hectares) of the total land mass,[48] but many protections have subsequently been overruled by concessions sold to both national and foreign companies for agroindustrial plantations and mining developments, even in national parks.[49]

The Cambodian government has been broadly criticized domestically and internationally for these contradicting policies, and a general lack of enforcement of environmental laws. They have faced pressures to practice a more sustainable forestry overall. The fate of Cambodia's forests will largely affect local communities that rely on the forests for their livelihood. Around 80% of its population lives in rural areas.[49]

Cambodia's primary forest cover fell dramatically from over 70% in 1970 at the end of the Vietnam War to just 3.1% in 2007, when less than 3,220 square kilometers of primary forest remained.[50] Deforestation is proceeding at an alarming rate: nearly 75% of forest loss has occurred since the end of 1990s. In total, Cambodia lost 25,000 square kilometers of forest between 1990 and 2005, 3,340 square kilometer of which was primary forest.[50] As 2016, 87,424 square kilometers of forest remained including 28, 612 square kilometers of evergreen forest,[51] with the result that the future sustainability of Cambodia's forest reserves is under severe threat.[52]


As of 2008, at present rates, tropical rainforests in Indonesia would be logged out in 10 years, Papua New Guinea in 13 to 16 years.[53]

Indonesia had lost over 72% of intact forests and 40% of all forests completely in 2005.[54] Illegal logging took place in 37 out of 41 national parks. Illegal logging costs up to US$4 billion a year. The lowland forests of Sumatra and Borneo were at risk of being wiped out by 2022. According to Transparency International, numerous controversial court decisions in this area have raised concerns about the integrity of the judiciary.[55]


This image reveals the overall extent of land-cover change throughout the region.
Deforestation in Malaysia is a major environmental issue in the country. Between 1990 and 2010, Malaysia lost an estimated 8.6% of its forest cover, or around 1,920,000 hectares (4,700,000 acres).[56] Logging and land clearing, particularly for the palm oil sector, have been significant contributors to Malaysia's economy. However, as a megadiverse country, efforts have been made to conserve Malaysia's forests and reduce the rate of deforestation.


Satellite image of the Philippines in March 2002 showing forest cover in dark green
Small-scale logging and coal-making operations at the lower areas of the Sierra Madre mountain range

As in other Southeast Asian countries, deforestation in the Philippines is a major environmental issue. Over the course of the 20th century, the forest cover of the country dropped from 70 percent down to 20 percent.[57] Based on an analysis of land use pattern maps and a road map an estimated 9.8 million hectares of forests were lost in the Philippines from 1934 to 1988.[58]

A 2010 land cover mapping by the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) revealed that the total forest cover of the Philippines is 6,839,718 hectares (68,397.18 km2) or 23% of the country's total area of 30,000,000 hectares (300,000 km2).[59]

Deforestation affects biodiversity in the Philippines and has long-term negative impacts on the country's food production.[60] Deforestation in the Philippines has also been associated with floods, soil erosion, deaths, and damage to property.[61]


Thailand's borders with Laos and Cambodia are indicated by the brown expanse on the Thai side in this true-colour satellite image, which shows the effects of heavy deforestation.

Deforestation in Thailand refers to the conversion of its forested land to other uses. Deforestation numbers are inexact due to the scope of the issue. According to the Royal Forest Department (RFD) in 2019, Thai forests cover 31.6% (102 million rai) of Thailand's landmass.[62] The department claims that forest coverage grew by 330,000 rai in 2018, an area equivalent in size to the island of Phuket.[63] A year earlier, an academic claimed that, since 2016, forested area has declined by 18,000 rai, a significant improvement over the period 2008–2013, when a forested million rai were lost each year.[64] In 1975, the government set a goal of 40% forest coverage—25% natural forest and 15% commercial forest—within 20 years. To achieve that target in 2018, 27 million rai would have to be afforested.[64]

Between 1945 and 1975, forest cover in Thailand declined from 61% to 34% of the country's land area. Over the succeeding 11 years, Thailand lost close to 28% of all of its remaining forests. This means that the country lost 3.1% of its forest cover each year over that period.[65] An estimate by the World Wildlife Fund concluded that between 1973 and 2009, 43% of forest loss in the Greater Mekong subregion occurred in Thailand and Vietnam.[66]

The Thai Highlands in northern Thailand, the most heavily forested region of the country, were not subject to central government control and settlement until the second half of the 19th century when British timber firms, notably the Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation and the Borneo Company Limited, entered the teak trade in the late-1880s and early-1890s.[67] The Royal Forest Department, created in 1896 and headed by a British forester until 1925, sought to conserve the forests against the worst business practices of British, Thai, and Chinese timber firms who worked in the region.[68]

During the 20th century, deforestation in Thailand was driven primarily by agricultural expansion,[69] although teak deforestation happened as a direct result of logging. The Royal Forest Department has been referred to as "Forest Death" by environmental activists and those living with a close relationship with the forest, as its general promotion of deforestation for logging and other agricultural ventures resulted in the large decline in forest cover.[70] Much of the growth of cropland in the highlands of Thailand, where most of the deforestation has occurred, comes as a result of the growth and globalization of Thailand's agricultural economy and the relative scarcity of land available in the lowlands.


The Thai government, through both legislation and action of the Royal Forest Department, is beginning to emphasize forest restoration through a combination of policies seeking the reservation of existing forest land for conservation and the promotion of tree plantations to contribute to the amount of forest cover.[72] Notably, the country's policies seeking to emphasize conservation and amelioration of upland forests have come into significant conflict with upland communities, whose traditional means of agricultural practice and habitation have been significantly impacted.[65] In addition, a contingent of Buddhist monks in the country, known as "ecology monks", have become increasingly engaged in activities promoting environmental conservation and protection of original forest land.[73][74]


According to a 2005 report conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Vietnam has the second highest rate of deforestation of primary forests in the world, second only to Nigeria.[75]

However, regarding total forest cover, Vietnam has undergone a forest transition: its forest cover has increased since the early 1990s, after decades of deforestation.[76]

As of 2005, 12,931,000 hectares (the equivalent of 39.7% of Vietnam's land cover) was forested, although only 85,000 hectares (0.7% of the land cover) was primary forest, the most biodiverse form of forest.[77]

Vietnam has some 1,534 known species of fauna and 10,500 species of vascular plants, according to the World Conservation Monitoring Centre. 3.4% of Vietnam is protected under IUCN categories I-V.

Large areas of Vietnam were deforested during the Vietnam War due to the use of Agent Orange.


Deforestation in Europe, 2020

Europe has lost more than half of its forests in the past 6,000 years. This has primarily been due to agricultural expansion and demand for wood fuel.[78] According to satellite data, the loss of biomass in EU’s forests increased by 69% in the period from 2016 to 2018, compared with the period from 2011 to 2015.[79]

Countryside of central Sicily


Deforestation is 6% of Finland's total climate-warming emissions. Forests that are cut down for buildings, roads, and new fields total 19 000 hectares annually. The Rinne Cabinet of Prime Minister Antti Rinne has aimed to tax building in forests, but no tariff was in place in August 2019.[80]

Finnish forest management practices have resulted in significant net releases of carbon into the atmosphere from Finnish forest and mire ecosystems.[81]


Iceland has undergone extensive deforestation since Scandinavians settled in the ninth century. At the time of human settlement about 1150 years ago, birch forest and woodland covered 'at least 25%' of Iceland's land area. The settlers began by cutting down the forests and burning Shrubland to create fields and grazing land. Deforestation did not end in Iceland until the middle of the 20th century. Afforestation and revegetation have restored small areas of land.[82] However, agriculture was the main reason birch forests and woodland did not grow back.


Sicily is an oft-cited example of man-made deforestation, practised since Roman times when the island was made into an agricultural region,[83] and continued to this day. This gradually modified the climate, leading to a decline in rainfall and the drying of rivers. Today, the entire central and southwest provinces are practically without any forests.[84] This has also affected Sicily's wild fauna, of which little is left in the island's pastures and crop fields.[83]


Map of national parks in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands, once home to forests and marshes, has been turned into a fertile breadbasket. The remaining forests and marshes are strictly regulated by staatsbosbeheer (or in English: state forest management) and crisscrossed by service roads and cycling paths. but They are also protected by the Dutch government. with the government taking action with many national parks and protected regions.


United Kingdom

Nearly all forests in the UK have been turned into pasture over the centuries. A bucolic, rolling landscape has replaced the idea of true forests in the minds of most Britons.[85]

North America


A satellite image of the border between the denuded landscape of Haiti (left) and the Dominican Republic (right).

Deforestation in Haiti is a severe environmental problem. Haitians burn wood charcoal for 60% of their domestic energy production.[86]

In 1923 over 60% of Haiti's land was forested. In 2006, less than 2% of the land was forested.[87]

Central America

The history of most Central American countries involves cycles of deforestation and reforestation. By the fifteenth century, intensive Mayan agriculture had significantly thinned the forests. Before Europeans arrived, forests covered 500,000 square kilometers – approximately 90% of the region. Eventually, the forcing of "Europe's money economy on Latin America" created the demand for the exportation of primary products, which introduced the need for large amounts of cleared agricultural land to produce those products.[88] Since the 1960s, cattle ranching has become the primary reason for land clearing. The lean grass-fed cattle produced by Central American ranches (as opposed to grain-fed cattle raised elsewhere) was perfectly suited for American fast-food restaurants and this seemingly bottomless market has created the so-called "hamburger connection" which links "consumer lifestyles in North America with deforestation in Central America".[88]


Though replanted in 1987, this forest near Clayoquot Sound, British Columbia lost much topsoil and resembled a desert by 1993

In 2005, an estimated 56,000 hectares were deforested in Canada. Deforestation affected less than 0.02% of Canada’s forests in 2005. The agricultural sector accounted for just over half of the deforestation in 2005, the result of forests having been cleared for pasture or crops. The remainder was caused by urban development, transportation corridors, and recreation (19%); hydroelectric development (10%); the forest sector (10%); and other natural resource extraction industries (8%). About two thirds of this deforestation occurred in Canada’s boreal forest, mainly in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba where the forest borders the Prairies. [89]

In Canada, prior to 2000, less than 8% of the boreal forest was protected from development and more than 50% has been allocated to logging companies for cutting.[90]

British Columbia
Evan's Peak, British Columbia
The deforestation in British Columbia has occurred at a heavy rate during periods of the past, but with new sustainable efforts and programs the rate of deforestation is decreasing in the province. In British Columbia, forests cover over 55 million hectares, which is 57.9% of British Columbia's 95 million hectares of land.[91] The forests are mainly composed (over 80%) of coniferous trees, such as pines, spruces and firs.[92]

United States

Clearcutting in Clatsop County, Oregon

In 1600, prior to the arrival of European-Americans, roughly half of the land area of the present-day United States was forest—about 4,000,000 square kilometres (990,000,000 acres). For the next 300 years land was cleared, mostly for agriculture, at a rate that matched the rate of population growth. For every person added to the population, one to two hectares of land was cultivated. This trend continued until the 1920s when the amount of crop land stabilized in spite of continued population growth. As abandoned farmland reverted to forest, the amount of forestland increased from 1952, reaching a peak in 1963 of 3,080,000 square kilometres (760,000,000 acres). Since 1963 there has been a steady decrease of forest area with the exception of some gains from 1997.



Due to relatively recent colonisation, Australia has had high rates of deforestation, primarily due to clearing for agricultural purposes. In recent years much of the clearing has occurred in Tasmania and Queensland.[93] In 2007, rates were expected to decrease with the implementation of new legislation.[94][95] In 1998, deforestation is thought to have been responsible for around 12% of Australia's total carbon emissions.

An additional factor currently causing the loss of forest cover is the expansion of urban areas. Littoral rainforest growing along coastal areas of eastern Australia is now rare due to ribbon development to accommodate the demand for seachange lifestyles.[96]

Vast amounts of logging continue in Australia despite the devastation of the Black Summer Bushfires in 2019–2020.

New Zealand

In the 800 years of human occupation of New Zealand 75% of the forests were lost. Initially it was by wholesale burning by the British but remaining forests were logged for lumber for the burgeoning population. By 2000 all logging of native trees on public land was stopped. Logging on private land is controlled with a permit system and with the Resource Management Act.

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea (PNG) has one of the world’s largest rainforests. Illegal logging was among highest in the world in 2007, estimated as ca 70-90% of all timber export.[97]

South America

Amazon Rainforest

Overall, 20% of the Amazon rainforest has been "transformed" (deforested) and another 6% has been "highly degraded", causing Amazon Watch to warn that the Amazonia is in the midst of a tipping point crisis.[98]
Deforestation in Bolivia, in June 2016
Deforestation in the Maranhão state, Brazil, in July 2016

The Amazon rainforest is the largest rainforest in the world, covering an area of 3,000,000 km2 (1,158,306.48 square miles). It represents over half of the planet's rainforests and comprises the largest and most biodiverse tract of tropical rainforest in the world. This region includes territory belonging to nine nations. The majority of the forest is contained within Brazil, with 60%, followed by Peru with 13%, Colombia with 10%, and with minor amounts in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.

The cattle sector of the Brazilian Amazon, incentivized by the international beef and leather trades,[99] has been responsible for about 80% of all deforestation in the region,[100][101] or about 14% of the world's total annual deforestation, making it the world's largest single driver of deforestation.[102] The vast majority of agricultural activity resulting in deforestation was subsidized by government tax revenue.[103] By 1995, 70% of formerly forested land in the Amazon, and 91% of land deforested since 1970 had been converted to cattle ranching.[104][105] Much of the remaining deforestation within the Amazon has resulted from farmers clearing land (sometimes using the slash-and-burn method) for small-scale subsistence agriculture[106] or mechanized cropland producing soy, palm, and other crops.[107]

More than one-third of the Amazon Forest belongs to more than 3,344 formally acknowledged indigenous territories. Until 2015, only 8% of Amazonian deforestation occurred in forests inhabited by indigenous peoples, while 88% of occurred in the less than 50% of the Amazon area that is neither indigenous territory nor protected area. Historically, the livelihoods of indigenous Amazonian peoples have depended on the forest for food, shelter, water, fiber, fuel and medicines. The forest is also interconnected with their identity and cosmology. For this reason, the deforestation rates are lower in indigenous territories despite strong pressures.[108]

According to 2018 satellite data compiled by a deforestation monitoring program called Prods, deforestation has hit its highest rate in a decade. About 7,900 km2 (3,050 sq miles) of the rainforest was destroyed between August 2017 and July 2018. Most of the deforestation occurred in the states of Mato Grosso and Pará. BBC News reported the environment minister, Edson Duarte, as saying illegal logging was to blame, but critics suggest expanding agriculture is also encroaching on the rainforest.[109] It is suggested that at some point the forest will reach a tipping point, where it will no longer be able to produce enough rainfall to sustain itself.[110] According to a November 2021 report by Brazil's INPE, based on satellite data, deforestation has increased by 22% over 2020 and is at its highest level since 2006.[111][112]

In the pre-Columbian era, parts of the rainforest were widely populated regions with open agriculture. After European colonization occurred in the 16th century due to the hunt for gold and later the rubber boom, the Amazon rainforest was depopulated due to European diseases and slavery, so the forest grew larger.[113]

Prior to the 1970s, access to the forest's largely roadless interior was difficult, and aside from partial clearing along rivers, the forest remained intact.[114] Deforestation accelerated greatly following the opening of highways deep into the forest, such as the Trans-Amazonian highway in 1972.

In parts of the Amazon, poor soil made plantation-based agriculture unprofitable. The key turning point in deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon was when colonists began to establish farms within the forest during the 1960s. Their farming system was based on crop cultivation and the slash-and-burn method. However, the colonists were unable to successfully manage their fields and the crops due to the loss of soil fertility and weed invasion due to this method.[115]

In indigenous areas of the Peruvian Amazon such as the Urarina's Chambira River Basin,[116] the soils are productive for only relatively short periods of time, therefore causing indigenous horticulturalists like the Urarina to move to new areas and clear more and more land.[115] Amazonian colonization was ruled by cattle raising because ranching required little labor, generated decent profits, and land under state ownership to private companies, without term limits on property rights.[117] While the law was promoted as a "reforestation" measure, critics claimed the privatization measure would in fact encourage further deforestation of the Amazon,[118] while surrendering the nation's rights over natural resources to foreign investors and leaving uncertain the fate of Peru's indigenous people, who do not typically hold formal title to the forestlands on which they subsist.[119][120] Law 840 met widespread resistance and was eventually repealed by Peru's legislature for being unconstitutional.[119]

In 2015, illegal deforestation in the Amazon was on the rise again for the first time in decades; this was largely a result of consumer demand for products like palm oil.[121] As consumer pressure increases, Brazilian farmers clear their land to make more space for crops like palm oil, and soy.[122] Also, studies done by Greenpeace showed that 300 billion tons of carbon, 40 times the annual greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels, are stored in trees.[123] In addition to the carbon release associated with deforestation, NASA has estimated that if deforestation levels proceed, the remaining world's forests will disappear in about 100 years.[123] The Brazilian government adopted a program called RED (United Nations Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation Program) in order to help prevent deforestation.[124] The RED program has helped more than 44 countries across Africa with the development of education programs and has donated more than $117 million to the program.[124]

As of January 2019, the president of Brazil – Jair Bolsonaro – has made an executive order that allows the agriculture ministry to oversee some of the land in the Amazon.[125] Cattle ranchers and mining companies favor the president's decision. Brazilian economic policy is influencing the government to condone development on tribal territory in order to accumulate exports and increase economic growth. That has been criticized because taking away tribal land will endanger the indigenous people who live there now. The deforestation of the Amazon leads acceleration of climate change, increasing the relative contribution of Brazil to climate change.


Mato Grosso, Brazil 1992
Deforestation in Mato Grosso, Brazil through 2006
The deforestation rate in Brazil surged by 72% during Jair Bolsonaro's time in office, sharply reversing a conservation trend from the early 2010s.[126][127]

There is no agreement on what drives deforestation in Brazil, though a broad consensus exists that expansion of croplands and pastures is important. Increases in commodity prices may increase the rate of deforestation.[128][129] Recent development of a new variety of soybean has led to the displacement of beef ranches and farms of other crops, which, in turn, move farther into the forest.[130] Certain areas such as the Atlantic Rainforest have been diminished to just 7% of their original size.[131] Although much conservation work has been done, few national parks or reserves are efficiently enforced.[132] Some 80% of logging in the Amazon is illegal.[133]

In 2008, Brazil's government announced a record rate of deforestation in the Amazon.[134][135] Deforestation jumped by 69% in 2008 compared to 2007's twelve months, according to official government data.[136] Deforestation could wipe out or severely damage nearly 60% of the Amazon rainforest by 2030, according to a 2007 report from WWF.[137]


Despite modern views of Atacama Desert as fully devoid of vegetation in pre-Hispanic and Colonial times a large flatland area known as Pampa del Tamarugal was forested, with demand of firewood associated silver and saltpeter mining causing widespread deforestation. While Tarapacá was still part of Peru demand of firewood by salpeter processing using the paradas method led to widespread deforestation around La Tirana and Canchones plus some areas to the south of these localities.[138] Reforestation efforts in Pampa del Tamarugal begun in 1963 and since 1987 reforestated areas are protected in the Pampa del Tamarugal National Reserve.[138]


Soil disturbance associated with deforestation in Colombia affects rivers such as the Orinoco and Meta through increased siltation and sedimentation that affects both water levels and aquatic biodiversity.

Colombia loses 2,000 km2 of forest annually to deforestation, according to the United Nations in 2003.[139] Some suggest that this figure is as high as 3,000 km2 due to illegal logging in the region.[139] Deforestation results mainly from logging for timber, small-scale agricultural ranching, mining, development of energy resources such as hydro-electricity, infrastructure, cocaine production, and farming.[139]

Deforestation in Colombia is mainly targeted at primary rainforests. This has a profound ecological impact in that Colombia is extremely rich in biodiversity, with 10% of the world's species, making it the second most biologically diverse country on Earth.[139]


The principal environmental issues in Peru are water pollution, soil erosion, pollution and deforestation. Although these issues are problematic and equally destructive, the Peruvian Environmental ministry has been developing regulation and laws to decrease the amount of pollution created in major cities and have been making policies in order to decrease the present deforestation rate in Peru.

See also


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  2. Butler, Rhett A. (31 March 2021). "Global forest loss increases in 2020". Mongabay. Archived from the original on 1 April 2021.Mongabay publishing data from "Forest Loss / How much tree cover is lost globally each year?". World Resources Institute — Global Forest Review. January 2021. Archived from the original on 10 March 2021.
  3. "Forest Pulse: The Latest on the World's Forests". World Resources Institute. 28 April 2022. Archived from the original on 28 April 2022.
  4. "Average westerner's eating habits lead to loss of four trees every year". the Guardian. 29 March 2021. Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  5. Hoang, Nguyen Tien; Kanemoto, Keiichiro (29 March 2021). "Mapping the deforestation footprint of nations reveals growing threat to tropical forests". Nature Ecology & Evolution. 5 (6): 845–853. doi:10.1038/s41559-021-01417-z. ISSN 2397-334X. PMID 33782576. S2CID 232420306. Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  6. Nature laid waste: The destruction of Africa, The Independent, June 11, 2008
  7. Africa's deforestation twice world rate, says atlas, Reuters, June 10, 2008
  8. Deforestation reaches worrying level - UN Archived 2008-12-06 at the Wayback Machine. AfricaNews.
  9. Forests and deforestation in Africa - the wasting of an immense resource Archived 2009-05-20 at the Wayback Machine, afrol News
  10. Nix, Steve (9 July 2019). "The Territory and Current Status of the African Rainforest". ThoughtCo.
  11. Adelaja, Abiose (June 8, 2007). "Deforestation accelerating in Central Africa". SciDev.Net.
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