November 23, 2015

It is vital for children to understand the importance of forests, the role they play in the environment, and the impact of deforestation. With that in mind, we put the following facts together that you can share with the kids in your life to help teach them.


What do paper, cinnamon, lumber, and maple syrup all have in common? They all come from  trees. A large area of land covered with trees is called a forest. Everything that lives in a forest make up its ecosystem (environment). When forests are cut down it is called deforestation.


Forests are very important to all life on planet earth. Forests provide homes to millions of animals, such as birds, insects, wild animals and reptiles. Forests provide resources to help us live on earth. Wood from trees is used to build homes, furniture and provide fuel. Paper is made from wood pulp, and much food and medicines comes from a variety of forest plants and animals that make their home (habitat) in forests. 

  • Forests are healthy for the environment. 
  • They soak up lots of rainfall. Runoff of water is filtered through the forest floor to make groundwater and help avoid erosion, where soil is washed away. 
  • The plants in a forest give off oxygen, and absorb carbon dioxide, keeping our air clean and healthy. 
  • Forests contribute to the overall climate of the earth. 
  • Forests have a natural beauty and peace that make them quite enjoyable.

How many forests are on the earth? 
Before people began to cut down forests to build cities and create farmland, forests covered about 60 percent of the earth. That was a lot of trees, plants and animals. Over half the earth was covered with forests. Some say that today there is only about one-fifth of the original forests remaining. Forests are being destroyed at a dangerous rate and it threatens all life on earth.


Many people are concerned about there being less forests today. They have reason to be concerned. When forests are cleared or cut down it is called deforestation. People remove forests for different reasons. There are over 7 billion people on the earth today. In order to make more room in cities for people to live they clear forests. Trees are also cleared to grow more food and raise livestock. Some people want to cut down forests in order to make money and sell the lumber.

  • So many forests are being cut down that it is making the earth sick, which is dangerous to all life on planet earth. 
  • Industrial pollution damages plant growth in forests through acid rain, chemicals, and wastes in lakes and streams. Eventually the trees, plants and animals die. 
  • Less forest plants means less oxygen and more carbon dioxide in the air. This imbalance threatens the very air we breathe.
  • More heat from the sun is trapped on the surface of the earth, rather than being reflected back into space. This causes less rainfall and more drought. The earth is experiencing dramatic changes in its climate due to deforestation.
  • 70 percent of earth's animals and plants live in forests. With deforestation, many animals and plants no longer exist (which is called being extinct) or threaten to become extinct as their habitats are destroyed.


With education, people can be taught the value of forests and the importance of caring for them and all life on planet earth. Being educated means to gather all the facts before making a decision. We hope that the facts we have given you will help you know how to make the right decision and be responsible for caring for the earth.

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Photo: ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano

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