Deforestation is primarily done to make more land available for urbanization, crops and cattle ranching. The most common methods of deforestation include burning trees and clear cutting, which is the practice of removing a complete tract of forest.
Roughly 18 million acres of forest are lost each year, which approximates to an amount the size of Panama. Almost half of the world's tropical forests have been cleared for land development. With this loss, the World Resources Institute states that such forest loss contributes between 12-17 percent of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. Deforestation is considered to be a contributing factor in global climate change. Trees absorb greenhouse gases and carbon emissions, and then produces oxygen, which continues the water cycle by releasing water vapor in the atmosphere. Without trees, this cycle is interrupted.
Deforestation occurs around the world, but rainforests are particularly targeted. The World Wildlife Fund reports that the logging industry, which contributes to deforestation, does so illegally. About half of the trees cut down are used for firewood. In addition to the concerns of climate change, deforestation also causes soil erosion. Tree roots anchor the soil, and without them, exposure to sun can cause the soil to dry out. This also leads to silt entering lakes, streams, and other water sources. Silt decreases the quality of local water, which can lead to poor health.