RAIN FOREST DEFORESTATION
BY AMANDA BASSETT
FORESTS AND WHAT THEY DO FOR US
- Rainforests cover less than 2% of the Earth’s total surface area, yet they are home to 50% of the Earth’s plants and animals.
- Rainforests once covered 14% of the Earth’s land surface.
- Experts estimate that the last remaining rainforests could be consumed in less than 40 years.
- The United Nations estimates that over 100,000 acres of rainforests are destroyed each day.
- 11 tropical Latin American countries have already destroyed all of their intact forests. They are: The Bahamas, Dominica, El Salvador, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia and Uruguay.
- There are two types of rainforest; temperate and tropical rainforests
- The world has lost 50% or 75 million acres of it’s temperate rainforest.
- Temperate forests are the most endangered forest type on the planet.
- British Columbia is home to a quarter of the world’s remaining ancient temperate rainforests
- Over 40% of the trees cut in British Columbia are used to produce paper.
ANIMALS AND THEIR HABITATS
The area of Bukit Tigapuluh, or “30 Hills,” is the last refuge for some of Sumatra’s most critically endangered species. Sumatra is the only place on Earth where elephants, tigers and orangutans coexist.
Yet, Sumatra’s rain forests are disappearing at one of the fastest rates in the world. In fact, half are already gone.
If we don’t work now to stop the clearing, these important habitats may vanish, threatening the survival of those species that depend on them.
INCREASED GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS
Forests help to mitigate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, but they become carbon sources when they are cut, burned or otherwise removed. These greenhouse gas emissions contribute to rising temperatures, changes in patterns of weather and water and an increased frequency of extreme weather events.
DISRUPTION OF WATER CYCLES
Trees play a key role in the local water cycle by helping to keep a balance between the water on land and water in the atmosphere. But when deforestation or degradation occurs, that balance can be thrown off, resulting in changes in precipitation and river flow.
INCREASED SOIL EROSION
Without trees to anchor fertile soil, erosion can occur and sweep the land into rivers. The agricultural plants that often replace the trees cannot hold onto the soil. Many of these plants—such as coffee, cotton, palm oil, soybean and wheat—can actually exacerbate soil erosion.
Millions of people around the world depend on forests for hunting, gathering and medicine, forest products such as rubber and rattan, and small-scale agriculture. But deforestation disrupts the lives of these people, sometimes with devastating consequences.