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Deforestation by region: Map


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The rates of deforestation varies for the different regions around the world.



Africa is suffering deforestation at twice the world rate, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Some sources claim that deforestation has already wipedout roughly 90% of West Africa's original forests. Deforestation is accelerating in Central Africa. According to the FAO, Africa lost the highest percentage of tropical forests of any continent during the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s. According to the figures from the FAO (1997), only 22.8% of West Africa's moist forests remain, much of this degraded. Nigeria has lost 81% of its old-growth forests in just 15 years (1990-2005). Massive deforestation threatens food security in some African countries. One factor contributing to the continent's high rates of deforestation is the dependence of 90% of its population on wood as fuel for heating and cooking.

Research carried out by WWF International in 2002 shows that in Africa, rates of illegal logging vary from 50% in Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea to 70% in Gabon and 80% in Liberia – where timber revenues played a major role in financing the Sierra Leone Civil War and other regional armed conflicts until the UN Security Council imposed a ban on all Liberian timber in 2003.


The main cause of deforestation in Ethiopiamarker, located in East Africa, is a growing population and subsequent higher demand for agriculture, livestock production and fuel wood. Other reasons include low education and inactivity from the government, although the current government has taken some steps to tackle deforestation. Organizations such as Farm Africa are working with the federal and local governments to create a system of forest management. Ethiopia, the third largest country in Africa by population, has been hit by famine many times because of shortages of rain and a depletion of natural resources. Deforestation has lowered the chance of getting rain, which is already low, and thus causes erosion. Bercele Bayisa, an Ethiopian farmer, offers one example why deforestation occurs. He said that his district was forested and full of wildlife, but overpopulation caused people to come to that land and clear it to plant crops, cutting all trees to sell as fire wood.

Ethiopia has lost 98% of its forested regions in the last 50 years. At the beginning of the 20th century, around 420,000 km² or 35% of Ethiopia's land was covered with forests. Recent reports indicate that forests cover less than 14.2% or even only 11.9% now. Between 1990 and 2005, the country lost 14% of its forests or 21,000 km².


Deforestation with resulting desertification, water resource degradation and soil loss has affected approximately 94% of Madagascar's previously biologically productive lands. Since the arrival of humans 2000 years ago, Madagascarmarker has lost more than 90% of its original forest. Most of this loss has occurred since independence from the French, and is the result of local people using slash-and-burn agricultural practices as they try to subsist. Largely due to deforestation, the country is currently unable to provide adequate food, fresh water and sanitation for its fast growing population.


According to the FAO, Nigeria has the world's highest deforestation rate of primary forests. It has lost more than half of its primary forest in the last five years. Causes cited are logging, subsistence agriculture, and the collection of fuel wood. Almost 90% of West Africa's rainforest has been destroyed.


Southeast Asia

The forest loss is acute in Southeast Asia, the second of the world's great biodiversity hot spots. According to 2005 report conducted by the FAO, Vietnammarker has the second highest rate of deforestation of primary forests in the world second to only Nigeriamarker. More than 90% of the old-growth rainforests of the Philippinemarker archipelago have been cut. Other SE Asian countries where major deforestation are ongoing are Cambodiamarker and Laosmarker. According to a documentary by TelePool, the deforestation is being directed by corrupt military personnel and government (Forestry services).



At present rates, tropical rainforests in Indonesiamarker would be logged out in 10 years, Papua New Guineamarker in 13 to 16 years.


Sri Lanka





Iceland has undergone extensive deforestation since Vikings settled in the ninth century. As a result, vast areas of vegetation and land has degraded, and soil erosion and desertification has occurred. As much as half of the original vegetative cover has been destroyed, caused in part by overexploitation, logging and overgrazing under harsh natural conditions. About 95% of the forests and woodlands once covering at least 25% of the area of Iceland may have been lost. Afforestation and revegetation has restored small areas of land.


Russia has the largest area of forests of any state on Earth. There is little recent research into the rates of deforestation, but in 1992, 2 million hectares of forest were lost and in 1994, around 3 million hectares were lost. The present scale of deforestation in Russia is most easily seen using Google Earth. Areas nearer to China are most affected, as it is the main market for the timber. Deforestation in Russia is particularly damaging as the forests have a short growing season due to extremely cold winters and therefore will take longer to recover.

North America


One case of deforestation in Canada is happening in Ontariomarker's boreal forests, near Thunder Baymarker, where 28.9% of a 19,000 km² of forest area had been lost in the last 5 years and is threatening woodland caribou. This is happening mostly to supply pulp for the facial tissue industry.

In Canada, less than 8% of the boreal forest is protected from development and more than 50% has been allocated to logging companies for cutting.

United States

Prior to the arrival of European-Americans about one half of the United States land area was forest, about 4 million square kilometers (1 billion acres) in 1600. For the next 300 years land was cleared, mostly for agriculture at a rate that matched the rate of population growth. For every person added to the population, one to two hectares of land was cultivated. This trend continued until the 1920s when the amount of crop land stabilized in spite of continued population growth. As abandoned farm land reverted to forest the amount of forest land increased from 1952 reaching a peak in 1963 of 3,080,000 km² (762 million acres). Since 1963 there has been a steady decrease of forest area with the exception of some gains from 1997.



Due to relatively recent colonisation, Australia has had high rates of deforestation, primarily due to clearing for agricultural purposes. In recent years much of the clearing has occurred in Tasmania and Queensland, but rates are expected to decrease with the implementation of new legislation. In 1998, deforestation is thought to have been responsible for around 12% of Australia's total carbon emissions.

An additional factor currently causing the loss of forest cover is the expansion of urban areas. Littoral Rainforest growing along coastal areas of eastern Australia is now rare due to ribbon development to accommodate the demand for seachange lifestyles.

New Zealand

In the 800 years of human occupation of New Zealandmarker 75% of the forests were lost. Initially it was by wholesale burning by Maori and Europeans but remaining forests were logged for lumber for the burgeoning population. By 2000 all logging of native trees on public land was stopped. Logging on private land is controlled with a permit system and with the Resource Management Act.

South America

Amazon rainforest


There is no agreement on what drives deforestation in Brazil, though a broad consensus exists that expansion of croplands and pastures is important. Increases in commodity prices may increase the rate of deforestation. Recent development of a new variety of soybean has led to the displacement of beef ranches and farms of other crops, which, in turn, move farther into the forest. Certain areas such as the Atlantic Rainforest have been diminished to just 7% of their original size. Although much conservation work has been done, few national parks or reserves are efficiently enforced. Some 80% of logging in the Amazon is illegal.

In 2008, Brazil's Government has announced a record rate of deforestation in the Amazon. Deforestation jumped by 69% in 2008 compared to 2007's twelvemonths, according to official government data. Deforestation could wipe out or severely damage nearly 60% of the Amazon rainforest by 2030, says a new report from WWF.

Deforestation in Mato Grosso, Brazil




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