Map of world-wide forest distribution

Forests cover about a fourth of the Earth’s land area.  As a result of the human agricultural revolution and urbanization, half of the forests that originally covered 46 percent of the Earth’s land mass have been destroyed.  Only one fifth of the Earth’s original forests remain pristine and undisturbed.  In North America, 56 percent of the coastal rain forests that extended from Alaska to California have been cut down, while at one time most of the temperate forests of Appalachian had suffered a similar fate until conservation measures resulted in the re-establishment of many forest areas.  Where wide-spread clear cutting occurs, ecosystems are destroyed and signficant problems of soil erosion occur.  Today, the greatest problem of  deforestation is occurring in the rain forest of Central and South America.  This is especially alarming since, while rain forests cover only 2 percent of the Earth’s surface, they account for 5o percent of  the 5 to 10 million plant and animal species on Earth.  The rain forests of Central and South America also account for many of the yet unidentified plant species that are a significant source of new drugs and are important to the absorption of CO2 and the production of oxygen as part of the global climate system.


~ by americanpresidents on February 23, 2010.

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