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What is deforestation?

Published On: Jul 22 2011 02:37:39 PM CDT

Deforestation is clearing Earth's forests on a massive scale, often resulting in damage to the quality of the land.

Forests still cover about 30 percent of the world’s land area, but swaths the size of Panama are lost each and every year.

The world’s rain forests could completely vanish in a hundred years at the current rate of deforestation.

Forests are cut down for many reasons, but most of them are related to money or to people’s need to provide for their families.

The biggest driver of deforestation is agriculture.

Farmers cut forests to provide more room for planting crops or grazing livestock.

Often many small farmers will each clear a few acres to feed their families by cutting down trees and burning them in a process known as “slash and burn” agriculture.

Logging operations, which provide the world’s wood and paper products, also cut countless trees each year.

Loggers, some of them acting illegally, also build roads to access more and more remote forests, which leads to further deforestation.

Forests are also cut as a result of growing urban sprawl.

Not all deforestation is intentional.

Some is caused by a combination of human and natural factors like wildfires and subsequent overgrazing, which may prevent the growth of young trees.

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