What Are the Primary Causes of Global Deforestation?


Quick Answer

The largest contributors to global deforestation including logging, transportation and agricultural development. These factors often join together in various orders to cause deforestation. For instance, transportation development requires the clearing of small amounts of forest for roads. Legal and illegal loggers then have more access to clear the forest of valuable lumber, and the area becomes more easily accessible for agricultural development, causing its complete deforestation.

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Full Answer

Developing countries are home to most of the world's tropical rain forests, which are left vulnerable to deforestation for economic development. For instance, a higher demand for rain forest timber encourages the harvesting of large areas of timber by loggers. Once stripped of lumber and often unclaimed, these areas are subject to burning by migrants for subsistence farming and settlement. While subsistence farming contributes greatly to deforestation, commercial agriculture puts further pressure on forested areas as developing countries seek to take advantage of the global demand for produce, livestock and biofuel.

Some consequences of global deforestation are reduced biodiversity and climate change. The rain forests are home to nearly 80 percent of all known wildlife. The clearing of those areas causes species to lose their natural habitats and may even force some species into extinction. Deforestation is also responsible for 15 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, making it the third largest contributor to climate change behind fossil fuels.

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