Our World in Data presents the data and research to make progress against the world’s largest problems. This blog post draws on data and research discussed in our entry on Forests and Deforestation.
The world has lost one-third of its forests since the end of the last great ice age. Deforestation has continued throughout the last millennia but rates rapidly accelerated in the last few centuries. There was a marked acceleration in deforestation rates in the 20th century, particularly in tropical regions. Global forest loss peaked in the 1980s – losing an area half the size of India. Since then, deforestation has slowed. In fact, many countries have now reversed the long-term trend and transitioned to a net gain of forests, reforestation.
Since the end of the last great ice age – 10,000 years ago – the world has lost one-third of its forests.1 Two billion hectares of forest – an area twice the size of the United States – has been cleared to grow crops, raise livestock, and use for fuelwood.