For thousands of years humans have been deforesting small areas of woodland to build their own houses or grow crops to feed their families. However, in recent years the increase in the human population and development of industrial machinery has meant that much larger areas have been cleared. This is often by large companies who deforest to provide land for cattle, rice fields and growing crops for biofuels.

In the last 75 years over half of the world's rainforests have been cut down. Scientists estimate that 32 000 hectares of rainforest are destroyed each day.

Deforestation destroys the habitats of the organisms that live there and through this kills individuals of many species. Scientists estimate that several hundred species of plant, animal and insect are lost each day partly as a result of deforestation. This means that deforestation is causing extinctions and dramatically reducing biodiversity.

World map showing areas of forest in 8000 BCE

The world's forests 8000 BC