Climate 101: Deforestation | National Geographic

- [Narrator] Forests cover about 30% of the planet.

And the ecosystems they create play an essential role

in supporting life on earth.

But deforestation is clearing earth's forest

on a massive scale.

And at the current rate of destruction,

the world's rainforest can completely disappear

within 100 years.

Why should we care about deforestation?

Together Forestry and Agriculture are responsible

for 24% of greenhouse gas emissions, making deforestation

a significant contributor to climate change.

Deforestation impacts the amount of greenhouse gases

in the atmosphere in two ways.

First, when trees are felled, they release

the carbon they are storing into the atmosphere.

Second, trees play a critical role in absorbing

the greenhouse gases that fuel global warming.

Fewer forests mean larger amounts of greenhouse gases

entering the atmosphere,

and increased speed and severity of global warming.

In addition to helping regulate the earth's climate,

forests provide habitats for over 80% of the plants

and animals that live on land.

But deforestation destroys these habitats,

diminishing biodiversity.

Some estimate that four to six thousand rainforest species

go extinct each year.

This also affects the more than two billion people

who rely on forests as sources of food and shelter.

The biggest driver of deforestation is agriculture.

Farmers chop down trees in order to plant crops

like soybeans, palm trees and cocoa,

or to make room to raise livestock for beef.

Logging operations which provide the world's

wood and paper products also cut countless trees each year.

Forests are also destroyed as a result of growing

urban sprawl, as land is developed for dwellings.

The effects of deforestation are grave,

but not irreversible.

Efforts such as managing forest resources,

eliminating clear-cutting and planting new trees

to replace those removed, are already being made

to reduce deforestation's environmental impact

on our planet.

And while some plant and animal species are gone forever,

combating deforestation can help prevent

further loss of biodiversity.

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