The world’s tree population continues to decrease at an alarming rate. According to the United Nations, approximately 18 million acres (or 7.3 million hectares) of forest are destroyed each year. This rapid tree destruction doesn’t only affect the local ecosystems, it can impact the long-term existence of living species of all kinds, including mankind. Trees play a special and critical role in our global ecosystem, providing oxygen, cleaning our air, filtering our groundwater, preventing soil erosion, providing us with many important medicines, serving as a habitat and food source for tens of thousands of animals, among many other benefits.
What is Deforestation?
Deforestation is defined as the conversion of forested areas to non-forest land. Deforestation can be both, manmade and natural. Over the years, mankind has cut down trees for many uses - to build shelter, for medicine, for wood, and making paper goods, among others. Mankind has also cleared vast areas of forest to use the land for urban developments, agriculture, logging and mining. Natural causes of deforestation includes forest fires caused by lightening, severe storms, and destructive insect infestation.
Interesting Facts about Forests and Deforestation
- Forests cover approximately 30% of the land on earth
- Every second, 1.5 acres of forest is cut down (20 football fields of forest every minute)
- According to the United Nations, half of our tropical forests have already been cleared by humans
- If the current rate of deforestation continues, the rainforests will no longer exist in 100 years
- The leading cause of deforestation is clearing for agriculture (prevalent in South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia with over 13 million hectare per year being converted)
- 6 billion people throughout the world depend on paper products
- Nearly half of the world’s wood and approximately 70% of paper is consumed by the populations in the U.S., Japan, and Europe
- According to the Rainforest Action Network, even though the U.S. accounts for less than 5% the world’s population, it consumes over 30% of all paper goods produced
- An average American uses about 750 pounds of paper each year, and 95% of homes are built using wood. That means one person uses the equivalent of a 100-foot tall, 16 inch diameter tree each year for their wood product and paper needs
- If deforestation continues at current rates, up to 28,000 of the world’s species will become extinct by the end of the next quarter of the century
- Floods, extinction of wildlife, soil erosion, and climate imbalance are just a few of the negative effects of deforestation
- Deforestation impacts the water cycle - trees absorb groundwater and release it into the air during transpiration. Less trees means the water table is affected and the climate could become drier
Interesting Facts About the Benefits of Trees and Forests
- A single tree produces approximately 260 pounds of oxygen per year. That means two mature trees can supply enough oxygen annually to support a family of four!
- Approximately one-third of the area of the U.S. is covered by forests
- Water originating in the U.S. national forests provides clean drinking water to about 60 million people
- Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30%
- One tree can absorb as much carbon in a year that an average car would produce if it drove 26,000 miles
- Over the course its life, a single tree can absorb one ton of carbon dioxide
- 20% of the oxygen on earth is generated by the Amazon forest
- Nearly 7% of earth is covered by tropical forests, accounting for over 50% of the world’s plant and animal species
- Over 120 medicines are provided by the rainforest
What Can You Do to Help Counter Deforestation?
There are many things we can do to help fight deforestation and try to make a difference. You can take action by supporting or working with a great cause that’s focused on countering deforestation. There are many reputable groups who work with governments to try and prevent deforestation and/or plant trees to rebuild ecosystems. Another is to reach out to your local government leaders directly to find out what you may be able to do in your own community or state. We can also support companies committed to helping our environment. Something else you can do which has a direct impact is to plant trees! You can plant trees in your yard, volunteer in your local community to organize events to plant trees at the park or in other public areas, and even do a tree burial and grow a living enduring tree memorial that honors a loved one’s memory and gives back in the process.
The Living Urn® tree burial system is responsible for tens of thousands of tree plantings worldwide, with many families sharing beautiful stories about their planting with this unique patented tree urn. As an added bonus, for every Living Urn bio urn planted, the company is committed to donating to plant a second tree in one of America’s forests in need of reforestation - doubling the impact! The Living Urn is committed to ramping up this program and has a goal of one million tree plantings within the next 10 years. Honor a loved one and give back with The Living Urn.