Deforestation is the process of destroying or removing a forest ecosystem. In its place, a different form of ecosystem will come about.
This is different from the process of clear-cutting a forest. Clear-cutting only removes the current trees, but allows
new ones to grow in their place because it does not fundamentally change the ecosystem.It is often hard to measure deforestation. The definitions of forests and deforestation are continually changing, and data acquired by scientists is not always accurate and reliable for analysis.
Over the course of history,
humans have often destroyed forests. Settlers often burned trees down to have land to plant crops, and the Native Americans burned forests to develop grasslands full of large game animals.
A few major causes are responsible for deforestation. Expanding agriculture and animal herds can cause trees to be removed, as can the harvesting of wood to be used as fuel. Other important factors leading to deforestation are timber harvest, grazing, and random fires.
Besides killing trees and ruining forest ecosystems, deforestation presents many other problems as well. Species may become extinct due to the loss of their habitat, erosion and flooding can occur, and desertification and decreased land productivity may also result. The general climate of an area can also change, and more carbon dioxide can be released.
Deforestation has become a major issue around the world. Some countries have developed programs aimed at reducing deforestation by creating incentives to adopt less wasteful ways of living.
Annual deforestation rates
Overview of deforestation