Deforestation is the clearing of trees, transforming a forest into cleared land. It changes the land into a less bio-diverse ecosystem such as pasture, cropland or plantation. Forests cover over 30 percent of Earth’s land. Rainforests make up 6 to 7 percent of the earth and contain over one half of all plant and animal species in the world. The largest rainforests on earth are: Amazon basin in South America, the Congo River basin in Central Africa, Southeast Asia, New Guinea and Madagascar.
Why are forests and rainforests important? Trees absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen in return. Twenty percent of the world’s oxygen is produced in the Amazon. Forests help preserve biodiversity, as they are home to over 70 percent of Earth’s plant and animal species. Forests also play an important role in offering watershed protection, preventing soil erosion and mitigating climate change.