Forests form a large part of the GCSE Geography syllabus. This quiz is all about deforestation - the deliberate destruction of forests.
Deforestation is the permanent destruction of forests in order to make the land available for other uses. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, an estimated 18 million acres of rainforest are lost each year. And according to a study by the US University of Maryland and the World Resource Institute, since the last century Indonesia has lost 15.79 million hectares of forest land.
Deforestation is far from a modern phenomenon. Examination of pollen levels has shown that extensive deforestation took place in the Neolithic period in the UK, and since 1600 90% of the forests in the US have been removed. Now the bulk of the worlds remaining indigenous forests are in Canada, Alaska, Russia and the north-western Amazon basin.
Some estimates state that over half the trees that are removed are used for fuel. Tracts are also removed to make space for housing and urbanisation, as well as for agriculture and cattle farming. In places such as Indonesia, palm oil is a leading reason for deforestation. Forests are also removed to supply hard woods, which are now a highly prized and expensive material. Other uses include paper manufacturing and gold or other mineral mining. On occasion forest fires destroy mature forests, but they make way for regrowth. Climate change means that some forests are dying out as mature trees fail to adapt to changing conditions and they are not replaced by younger trees - either due to the climatic changes, or to over grazing.
Whilst the destruction of the trees and the attendant ecosystems is itself a tragedy, deforestation is considered to be one of the major contributing factors to global climate change.