Latin America and the Caribbean have some of the largest forest areas in the world. While many of these forests remain in an amazingly natural state, many others have been destroyed on a greater scale than anywhere else in the world.
In 1990, Latin America and
the Caribbean were the home of 52% of the world's tropical rain forests and 28% of all forest areas. Forest areas covered a total of 48% of the region's land.
Great amounts of forest are being lost now and even more have been lost in recent decades. From 1980 to 1990, the total number of hectares of forest fell from 992 million to 918 million. From 1970 to 1990, annual deforestation rates increased from 5.4 million hectares to 7.4 million hectares.
Tropical rain forests have been extremely hard hit by deforestation, decreasing by 7.4% from 1980 to 1990. Some countries such as Costa Rica have created national parks and forests to prevent their tropical rain forests from being completely destroyed.
A large amount of land is being taken over for uses such as agriculture. Major forest areas that are cut down may never return.
In addition to agricultural expansion, there are several other causes of deforestation in Latin
America and the Caribbean. Commercial logging, the raising of livestock, construction, and the use of wood as fuel all contribute to the problem.
Also, as the wealthier class pushes peasants off their land, the peasants are forced to relocate in treed areas. For their farming purposes, they often have to remove the trees.