Deforestation is the total removal of trees or other vegetation from land.
Forest degradation is when forests are damaged or destroyed in ways that reduce their ability to provide ecosystem services. Deforestation and forest degradation can be caused by human activity such as logging or agriculture, fuelwood harvesting, timber, mining, population growth, and urbanization. They can also be caused by natural disasters like forest fires. Deforestation and or forest degradation leads to changes in the weather and water flow patterns. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and let out oxygen. When we cut down a large amount of trees, carbon dioxide is no longer absorbed, and instead it stays in the atmosphere. The carbon dioxide then acts as a greenhouse gas. It absorbs and readmits radiation back down to Earth which causes the Earth to warm. Precipitation patterns are also affected by deforestation. When it rains plants and trees absorb water. Through transpiration, plants lose water, which is then evaporated into the atmosphere. Next, clouds form from the evaporated water and when enough is collected, it begins to rain. This cycle cannot repeat itself when deforestation happens because there are no trees to collect the water. Droughts can then occur due to low precipitation.
Did you know that 80% of land-dwelling species rely on forests to survive?

These changes have serious consequences for animal survival also. Deforestation means less space to live in, more competition, and higher risks of disease transmission. On top of that, animals may have trouble finding enough food due to changes in plant composition and distribution. This has a negative impact on many species because it causes habitat fragmentation and loss.
Forests are important to animals in ways that we may not think of. For example, grizzly bears in Montana eat seeds from pine trees in alpine forests. Ocelots in Texas find their mates while traversing thorn forests. Kirtland’s warblers nest in jack pine forests. Even species that live in the water rely on forests. They benefit from the work forests do to keep their habitat — rivers, streams and lakes—clean.
Unfortunately, many animals are threatened by deforestation.
Below are 5 animals that are sadly high up on the endangered species list.
1) Pygmy Elephants African and Asian pygmy elephants can grow to 11,000 pounds in weight, but they are the smallest elephant and in danger. Pygmy elephants’ forest homes are being converted to farms and plantations, their tusks are targets for poachers, and they are increasingly coming into conflict with humans.

2) Chimpanzees Chimpanzees are brilliant animals with complex social structures and distinct cultures. The western chimpanzee found in West Africa
has drastically decreased and faces a very high risk of extinction soon due to threats such as disease, hunting, and habitat loss.

3) Giant Panda Pandas inhabit forests high in the mountains of Southwest China, where they live off of an almost entirely bamboo diet. They play an essential role in the forest ecosystem by depositing seeds as they move throughout their habitat. Birth rates for pandas are very low, which, combined with poaching and habitat loss, makes them vulnerable to extinction.

4) Monarch Butterfly With a flight of up to 3,000 miles from the US to Canada and all the way down to Mexico, the monarch’s migratory pattern is inspiring. But over the past two decades, monarch numbers have declined. The storm of threats facing these tiny but important creatures include habitat loss, intensified weather events due to the changing climate, and the use of harsh chemicals on milkweed – the only plant in which monarchs lay eggs.

5) Big Cats (Cheetahs, Lions, Leopards, & Jaguars) Many different cat species are severely threatened by loss of forest cover.
Deforestation, disease, and big game hunting are the main reasons all of these are endangered. 

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