Just The Facts

Deforestation: Set The World On Fire

How deforestation is warming the planet and what polices might rein it in.

Credit: Theera Disayarat Shutterstock.com

Takeaways


  • Deforestation and related land use change may account for 6% of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Worldwide, forested areas equal to the size of England were clear-cut annually from 2000 to 2010.
  • Globally, deforested areas twice the size of China can still potentially be restored as new forests.

1. At least 6% of greenhouse gases produced by human activity worldwide results from deforestation, forest degradation and land use change.

2. Other major manmade sources of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, as of 2012, include electricity/heating (31%), manufacturing/construction (13%), transportation (15%), agriculture (11%) and others.

3. Worldwide, forested areas equal to the size of England were clear-cut annually from 2000 to 2010.

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4. The good news, however, is that formerly forested areas collectively equivalent to an area twice the size of China can still potentially be restored as new forests.

5. Most deforestation or forest degradation is occurring in poor countries or emerging markets, such as Indonesia and Brazil.

6. Clearcutting wooded lands produces timber and pulp but also allows for more farmland and grazing space.

7. Profit motives and short-termism are often pitted against the longer-term environmental concerns.

8. To provide a solution, one major proposal supported by the United Nations, known as REDD+, is to pay developing nations not to cut down their trees.

9. Preserving forests (or harvesting timber more responsibly and conservatively) then becomes more profitable than clearcutting them.

10. Others contend that tropical deforestation can be prevented more effectively by direct bans and that forest preservation must be set as a goal of national policy, regardless of profit incentives.

Sources: The Globalist Research Center, World Resources Institute, Mongabay, The Economist, United Nations

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