Deforestation is the permanent destruction of forests in order to make the land available for other uses. An estimated 18 million acres (7.3 million hectares) of forest — roughly the size of Panama — are lost each year, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Some other statistics:
- About half of the world’s tropical forests have been cleared (FAO)
- Forests currently cover about 30 percent of the world’s land mass (National Geographic)
- Forest loss contributes between 12 percent and 17 percent of annual global greenhouse gas emissions (World Resources Institute)
Deforestation is considered to be one of the contributing factors to global climate change. Trees absorb greenhouse gases and carbon emissions. They produce oxygen and perpetuate the water cycle by releasing water vapor into the atmosphere. Without trees, forest lands can quickly become barren land.