Deforestation is a well-known environmental issue that affects both animals and the climate. It is a term that applies to the clearing or removal of an entire forest or group of trees, either artificially or due to natural disasters, thereby rendering the land non-usable from a forestry standpoint. Sometimes, it means converting former forests into farms, ranches, or urban usage.

It has been a topic of conversation since the 1950s because of its effect on the declining numbers of various plant and animal species, but the truth is that deforestation has been occurring for thousands of years due to both man and nature. Early Man set fires that destroyed areas of landscape and weather phenomenons are as old as time itself. The difference today is the level of severity in which deforestation is occurring. It happens on such a large scale and in many areas that can’t adjust to such sudden changes.

There are different types of areas that are affected by forest fragmentation. The majority, unfortunately, is taking place in the most fragile of ecosystems. The most concentrated deforestation occurs in tropical rainforests which contain species that are much more sensitive than those in more mild ecosystems. They are also the most valuable habitats. Although rainforests cover less than 6% of the Earth, they house nearly half of all the species of plants and animals we have on this planet. They are also the least likely to adapt to new environments when their homes are taken away due to a lack of practice with adaptability. Glaciers, fires, and hurricanes are weather occurrences that don’t happen in a tropical rainforest. The animals simply know just one way of life.

Another reason tropical forest animals are in danger is their increased vulnerability. Where they used to find cover and seek shelter in the deep underbrush, tropical species are now much more vulnerable to predators and poachers in open areas. Since they are incapable of adapting to a new environment, they remain exposed and at a constant risk.

Animals are not the only victims of tropical forest deforestation, however. There is a cascading impact across all levels of biodiversity. Rainforests produce billions of metric tons of carbon, which is then used to stabilize over two-thirds of our global climate. All of the variety and variability of life on Earth depend on rainforests.

Fortunately, there are many wildlife conservation groups whose missions are to help preserve the habitats of wild species in order to ward off extinction. If you would like to contribute yourself, check out these organizations dedicated to protecting the Amazon Rainforest.