Over 50 per cent of the earth’s forests have been cleared, mainly for grazing land expansion, agriculture and road construction.
Every year 15 million hectares of rain forest are being destroyed and 2.4 per cent of the world’s mixed species vegetation forests and woodlands are disappearing. Around 4 billion hectares of forests remain of which only 1.45 billion hectares are primary (old growth) forests.
There are multiple health and other benefits of forests in addition to their carbon storage effects. These include clean air, clean water, water retention and respiration, rain formation effects with large forests and soil protection from salinity and erosion. Many forests are sources of bioactive compounds, drugs and foods. The predicted loss of species caused by deforestation and climate change may include plants whose potential medicinal and nutritional value is yet to be determined.
For further detail see DEA’s Position Statement on Forests and Health