Deforestation is the intentional removal of large plots of forest, usually for farmland or development. Trees are harvested for lumber and fuel, or burned down to clear land. The practice is common in areas where economic activity is driven by agricultural expansion. It threatens wildlife diversity, and is a major contributor towards global climate change.
Deforestation is a global issue, with both temperate and tropical forests at risk. The top five exporters of felled timber are Brazil, Indonesia, New Guinea, Congo, and Madagascar. According to the World Wildlife Fund, “12-15 million hectares of forest are lost each year, the equivalent of 36 football fields per minute.”
Removal of forests can disrupt water cycles, release greenhouse gas, increase soil erosion, and decimate an area’s biodiversity. Unsanctioned cutting of swathes of forest is illegal, but it often occurs in remote locations, making it difficult to regulate.
Forestry management is the key to eliminating the problems associated with deforestation. Cuttings must be supplemented with new growth by planting new trees. While programs are in place to replant forests impacted by clear cutting, the number of trees being planted is still overwhelmingly disproportional to the number of trees being cut.
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