Causes of Deforestation

Causes of deforestation - logging truck There are many causes of deforestation from local people clearing land for farming to logging and mining. Many governments are now trying to stop the effects of deforestation by putting new laws in place.

Causes of deforestation - Agriculture and cattle

Local communities are clearing rainforests to make way for agriculture and cattle. As the population increases more areas will need to be cleared to feed the communities.

Some crops which are planted for exportation including rice, oil palms, tea, coffee and rubber. The palm oil can be used for biodiesel, so therefore demand is on the increase, as more governments demand cleaner fuels.

In Brazil 60-70% of deforestation is due to land being cleared for cattle pastureland

Causes of deforestation - Logging

This is one of the most well known causes of deforestation. Vast areas of forests are destroyed for the wood. Roads are built to move the wood for which more trees need to be destroyed. In some places this is done with good planning and management and new forests are planted. In other places it is done illegally and as much forest is destroyed and left as possible.

Logging can be just for selective trees, leaving others behind, which can also be damaged. This causes problems as the canopy is thinned and the forest is then exposed to additional sunlight. This then affects the soil and can also dry out the ground and leaves and therefore start fires.

Hydroelectric power stations

In some forests where there are large rivers, deforestation has occurred to build power stations. This causes problems for both the area that is cleared and also droughts further down river.


There are many precious metals in rainforests including gold, copper and diamonds. Vast areas of forests are cleared so that mining can be done to extract the precious metals and gems.

Gold mining is one of the main causes of deforestation in the Amazon. Gold is deposited in the riverbeds and floodplains. These areas and cleared form the natural forests and then techniques using either blasting or hydraulic mining are used.


New infrastructure is needed to reach villages, logging areas and mines. Forests need to be cleared to make way for roads, most roads are funded by governments but some are by private developments.

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Did you know?

14% of the world was covered by rainforests, this has now reduced to only 6%

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