Deforestation and climate change



Forests have a vital role to play in the fight against global warming. Carbon is absorbed by forests and stored in the trees and soil. This carbon is released as carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases when forests are disturbed or cleared.

Recent calculations indicate that deforestation and forest degradation are responsible for around 15% of greenhouse gas emissions.


Deforestation releases carbon into the atmosphere

This source of emissions must be addressed if we are to prevent the global average temperature rising more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels – the point at which we face a high risk of severe and irreversible changes in the planet’s natural systems.

WWF’s report Climate Solutions: WWF’s vision for 2050 concluded that unless effective action is taken to curb emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, our probability of limiting global warming to 2°C drops progressively from more than 90% to just 35%.

Unfortunately, the economic incentives for unsustainable forest management or converting forests to other land uses (agriculture, building roads and population expansion) are often greater (in the short-term) than the incentives to conserve or responsibly manage them.

What’s more, emissions from deforestation in developing countries are not currently included in the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – the international environmental treaty that aims to tackle global warming.
Farmland lies dry and life-less as a result of land clearing and extreme drought conditions. 
	© Adam Oswell / WWF
Farmland lies dry and life-less as a result of land clearing and extreme drought conditions.
© Adam Oswell / WWF

Love Your Forests

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	© Love your forests
The Love Your Forests campaign aims to raise awareness amongst consumers of Forests Stewardship Council (FSC) certified products and the importance of responsible forest management.

How to Love Your Forests