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Trees are important for all life on Earth, but they are being taken down in large numbers through deforestation.

Come learn about deforestation, the important jobs trees do for the Earth, and what is being done to protect forests.

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What is Deforestation?

Imagine being a small bird. You’ve just built a nest in the perfect tree where your little eggs will hatch in a few weeks. Looking around, you see nothing but green forest and know you can find plenty of food for your hungry chicks when it’s time.

Nearby, you hear a loud sound that you haven’t heard before, and then a thunderous crash. One by one, the trees are being cut down by people, and yours is next! In no time, that forest has no trees left.Deforestation is the process of removing a lot of trees from a forest at one time.

More than 30,000 square miles of trees are taken down all over the world every year.

Trees taken down during deforestation
Trees taken down during deforestation

When people cut down trees, it’s usually so they can use the land to grow crops or feed animals, like cows, that eat mostly grass.

Kinds of Deforestation

Slash and burn is when people cut trees down and burn them so they can use the land for other things, like farming.

Slash and burn method of deforestation
Slash and burn method of deforestation

People also cut down forests to build roads, which causes tree loss, and then cut down more trees to make things like fences, houses, and the paper we write on.

When more people move to a town or city, trees are cut down so new houses can be built.But not all deforestation is caused by people. Giant wildfires sometimes start from lightning strikes and can burn down a lot of trees before the fire can be put out.

Why Trees are Important

Just like your home gives you shelter and protects you, forests are home to many kinds of animals all over the world.Seventy percent of plants and animals that live on land live in forest homes and can’t survive in any other kind of habitat.

They can’t just move to a new house or new city like people can.

Forests are home to many kinds of animals
Forests are home to many kinds of animals

Trees also act like nature’s sponges, absorbing carbon dioxide, which is a heavy gas that gets trapped in the atmosphere like a blanket.

Carbon dioxide keeps heat from escaping the Earth’s atmosphere, making the planet warmer than it should be. Carbon dioxide is created from burning fuel, like the gas in cars, burning trees, dead plants and animals breaking down, and when you breathe.

Protecting the Forests

Forests are still being cut down, but people are trying to protect them and are doing it in many different ways. Some of the things being done are:

  • Planting new trees
  • Passing laws that protect forests
  • Going after people who cut down trees illegally

Lesson Summary

Deforestation is the practice of removing a lot of trees from a forest all at once, usually to use the land to grow crops or feed animals. Trees are destroyed in many ways, including slash and burn and wildfires.

People are trying to protect forests because they are home to many animals and absorb carbon dioxide.

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