Deforestation is clearing Earth's forests on a massive scale, often resulting in damage to the quality of the land. Forests still cover about 30 percent of the world’s land area, but large areas the size of Panama are lost each year. The world’s rain forests could completely vanish in a hundred years at the current rate of deforestation.
Reasons for Deforestation
Forests are cut down for many reasons, but most of them are related to money or people’s need to provide for their families. One of the top contributors of deforestation is agriculture. Farmers cut forests to provide more room for planting crops or grazing livestock. Often many small farmers will each clear a few acres to feed their families by cutting down trees and burning them in a process known as “slash and burn” agriculture. Logging operations, which provide the world’s wood and paper products, also cut countless trees each year. Loggers, some of them acting illegally, also build roads to access more and more remote forests. This process just leads to further deforestation. Forests are also cut as a result of growing urban populations. Hydroelectric dams are quite controversial because while they help to power communities, they also contribute to deforestation. Damming opponents believe that the building of such structures not only has a negative environmental impact, but it also opens up the area to loggers and more roads. To build a hydroelectric dam, acres of land must be flooded, which causes decomposition and release of greenhouse gases. Local people can also be displaced by dam projects, causing further deforestation when these people resettle elsewhere. Although not all deforestation is intentional, some is caused by a combination of human and natural factors like wildfires and subsequent overgrazing, which may prevent the growth of young trees. Fires, both accidental and intended, destroy acres of forest very quickly. Areas affected by logging are more susceptible to fires due