Background on deforestation

Tropical rainforest deforestation is one of the most serious and important issues facing the world today. Rainforests continue to be removed despite continuing efforts to alleviate this.

The major contributors to tropical deforestation are:

Direct conversion to large-scale agriculture (including livestock and clearing for tree plantations):

Latin America: 47%, Asia/Pacific: 29%, Africa: 12%

Direct conversion to small scale permanent agriculture:

Latin America: 13%, Asia/Pacific: 13%, Africa: 59%

Other (mostly slash and burn, urbanization, road construction and dams):

Latin America: 28%, Asia/Pacific: 20%, Africa: 9%

The second largest contributor in the Asian/Pacific region is intensification of shifting cultivation into undisturbed forests.

According to FAO the causes of deforestation vary from region to region but are not, as many people believe, in a major way caused directly by illegal logging for timber production. Deforestation is mainly due to, often illegal conversion of forest to other land uses. Illegal logging often precedes the conversion of tropical rainforest for agricultural or other land uses.

Illegal logging for timber alone, contributes on a global basis up to 2 to 4%, which might not directly be a major issue as far as deforestation is concerned, but it is a major issue in general and indirectly because it undermines the trade in certified sustainable timber. As illegally logged timber is invariably cheaper than legitimate products, it distorts global markets and undermines incentives for sustainable forest management.

In the following sections are some reasons why rainforests are important to save and some of the reasons why the Canopy Wood code of conduct has been established

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