Worst Countries For Deforestation By Woodland Area Losses

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Slash and burn agriculture is degrading the Amazonian forests at a fast pace.

Deforestation accounts for 15% of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) worldwide. Most of the forests lost are tropical, with Brazil, Indonesia, Peru and Bolivia ending in this list mainly due to deforestation of rainforests.

Rainforests Of Amazon And Indonesia


The rainforests of Amazons have one of the richest biodiversity in the world, with an estimated 15,000 tree species. Scientists estimate that 57% of these species could be lost due to deforestation for cattle ranching for exports to the West. Brazil has two-thirds of the Amazon, which now have some degree of protection. Brazil has always seen high rates of deforestation until 2004. After a decade of government measures, and pressure from environment activists and many private sectors, this rate was reduced by 80%. However, this positive development has been reversed since 2012, with 16% more of forests cut down in 2015 compared to 2014. Mato Grosso, Rondônia as well as Amazonas are the regions where most of the deforestation occurs in Brazil, due to agriculture, as well as constructions of dams, roads, and other infrastructure since the 'Forest Code' has been weakened. The police have been trying to deter illegal loggers. However, poor governance and corruption deter efficient implementation.


Bolivia and Peru are two of the other seven countries where the rainforests of Amazon occur. Peru has the second largest portion of the Amazon, covering half the country. 80% of the deforestation is illegal and driven by small-scale agriculture, commercial mining, and road construction. Local indigenous inhabitants, the private sector, and government are working with the help of initiatives like REDD to protect the rainforests. However, since Peru's economy is based on natural resources, and the country is getting more prosperous, the pressure on the forests is growing.


Bolivia's forests are cut down for soya farming, cattle ranching, and also a national commitment to food sovereignty. Bolivia rejects market-based international schemes to its forests, as it gives the industrialised countries the right to continue emissions. The Bolivian government has however agreed to non-market-REDD but is faced with balancing food security with forest protection.

13,382, 867, and 522 square miles of forests are cut down in Brazil, Peru and Bolivia respectively.


Rainforests and peat wetlands, both biodiversity hot-spots, are being cut down for palm oil and paper, making Indonesia one of the largest GHG emitter. The rainforests are home to 10% to 15% of plant and animal species of the world. 5,590 square miles of forest are cut annually in Indonesia. Urged by international consumers, the government announced a zero-deforestation policy with commitments from the various involved corporations which make Indonesia the largest palm supplier. However, the zero-deforestation policy was rolled back in 2015 to allow continued conversion of forests for palm plantations.

Boreal Forests In Russia

Russia has the largest continuous cover of forest in the world, which represents 25% of all pristine forests, and accounts for 70% of the world's boreal forests. 2,055 square miles of boreal forests are lost each year due to summer fire mainly in the eastern province Yakutsk. Increased human presence near forests increases the risk of fires, compounded by global warming due to anthropogenic climate change that makes these fires hotter, which destroys more trees and the seed-stock in the soil, thereby affecting future regeneration. Tar sand mining is also responsible for 20% of the forest loss in Russia. The Russian government is committed to protecting forests are important carbon sinks.

Pine Forests In Mexico

Agriculture, ranching, and lumbering are responsible for the destruction of tropical, subtropical and temperate forests in Mexico. The latest threat to the temperate pine forests is thinning of forests to grow avocados driven by increasing popularity and prices in the USA for the fruit. The illegal farming is invisible as avocados are grown under the canopy of trees and frustrates government monitoring. Avocados require more water than native trees threatening recharge of aquifers and thereby water supply for animals and people. The monarch butterfly is the first casualty as they are losing pine forests that are their wintering grounds.

Other Tropical Forests

Papua New Guinea

Logging, firewood collection, hunting, grazing, fire, and oil palm plantations are causing the loss of 966 square miles of tropical forests that cover 70% of Papua New Guinea. The deforestation causes climate change, loss of habitats and biodiversity. Many protected areas are being used to prevent further loss.


24.8% of Sudan is covered by forests, which is being cut down at the rate of 455 square miles every year for fuelwood, which is used for cooking, heating, as well as commercial purposes like electricity generation, and for steam engines and turbines. Biodiversity-rich forests are lost leading to desertification, loss of land productivity and GHG emissions.


Nigeria has only 6% of land under forests cover as against the ideal of 25%, as 317 square miles are cut each year. The people are dependent on forests for livelihood, heating and cooking needs as well as logging for timber export. Nigeria has the lost more than half its forests, leading to the highest desertification rate in the world.

Forests Of The US

Though forest cover has remained stable in the last century, 99% of the forests in the US were cut down in the previous two centuries. Currently, the country has 25% old growth, 67% secondary forests and 8% of plantations. 831 square miles of forests are lost for agriculture and growing urban sprawl, and timber harvest, as well as due to wildfire and disease. The U.S. Forest Service has undertaken massive reforestation between 1990 and 2010, that has helped to stabilize forest cover.

Worst Countries For Deforestation By Woodland Area Losses

Rank Country Annual Forest Area Cut (Square Miles)
1 Brazil
2 Indonesia
3 Russian Federation
4 Mexico
5 Papua New Guinea
6 Peru
7 United States of America
8 Bolivia
9 Sudan 455
10 Nigeria

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