25 Facts About Climate Change & Deforestation

Last updated on September 17th, 2019 at 09:03 am

This Global Forest Watch interactive map shows tree cover loss since the year 2000. Areas in pink are those suffering the worst rates of deforestation. They are the areas where timber is being illegally harvested and used to make imported furniture.

At Vermont Woods Studios, we certainly have a passion and appreciation for high quality craftsmanship and woodworking, but, the truth is, Peggy founded this business out of a passion for forest conservation.

It was this one astounding statistic that really lit a fire under her in 2005:

Every second, an acre of rainforest is lost forever

Along with trees, some of our favorite iconic wildlife species that live in the rainforest are being lost. For example, all the great cats (lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, etc) are critically endangered as are all the great apes (gorillas, chimps, orangutans, etc).

Our planet is actually losing over 100 unique species of plants and animals every day. The cause is habitat destruction.

Rainforest trees are being clear-cut for timber to make cheap furniture and flooring. The US furniture and flooring markets are largely to blame.

The global timber trade has been infiltrated by organized crime to the point where illegal wood (often clear cut from the rainforest) is pervasive throughout the imported wood furniture and flooring industry.

Much of it is accompanied by counterfeit documents labeling it as green certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

National Geographic published a report in 2014 on a UN study showing that the global environmental crime industry (with illegal logging being the primary component) has now surpassed the global drug trade in terms of estimated annual revenue.

Forests control water runoff, filter water, protect soil, cycle and store nutrients, and help regulate the climate. They’re a natural filtration system for our air and water.

Although the United States is adding to internal forest growth, our country contributes to deforestation by importing wood and wood products, much of which comes from the Amazon and the Boreal rainforests by way of China and Russia.

Global Furniture & Flooring Statistics

  • Up to 90% of the imported furniture in the US today is made from wood that is illegally clear-cut from the world’s rapidly disappearing rainforests
  • According to a Washington Post article, 70% of furniture sold in America is imported
  • The environmental crime industry is worth an estimated ~$200B per year with illegal logging accounting for half of that worth.
  • About 3% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions are a byproduct of cargo ships used to transport goods like lumber, furniture, and flooring around the world.

Rainforest Statistics

Amazon Rainforest Trip
Vermont Woods Studios founder, Peggy Farabaugh, travels to the Bolivian Amazon in 2015 to support conservation efforts with renowned conservationist and human rights advocate Rosa Maria Ruiz Rojas
  • More than half of the planet’s species live in the rainforest even though the rainforest only occupies about 2% of the earth’s surface
  • The amazon rainforest alone accounts for 20% of all forest land in the world
  • The amazon rainforest is the largest forest in the world and contains ¼ of all the freshwater on the planet
  • The amazon rainforest alone holds 48 billion tons of carbon dioxide in its trees
  • 20% of the world’s oxygen is produced in the Amazon rainforest by trees absorbing our carbon dioxide emissions and recycling them into oxygen. They’ve been dubbed the “lungs of our planet.”
  • Although the earth’s rainforests cover less than 2% of its total surface area, they are home to 50 % of the Earth’s plant and animal species

Deforestation Statistics

Deforestation of the Monarch Butterfly Over-Wintering Habitat in El Rosario
This is the El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Michoacan, Mexico. Only the trees at the very top of the mountain are still left. The rest have been illegally logged. Vermont Woods Studios has partnered with Jose Luis Alvarez and his non-profit Forests for Monarchs to help replant the deforested areas.
  • 50,000 square miles of forest, an area larger than the state of Pennsylvania disappear every year due to forest devastation.
  • Global rainforest destruction continues to proceed at a rate of >1 acre per second. 60 seconds every minute. 60 minutes every hour, 24/7/365.
  • That’s over 4000 football fields every hour of every hour day, 365 days/year.

Climate Change & Illegal Logging

  • 17% of all carbon emissions released into the atmosphere are a result of the destruction of the world’s forests
  • About 20% of global warming is attributed to the destruction of the rainforest.
  • Rainforest deforestation contributes as much to global warming as the sum of all the cars, trains and planes in the world
  • Approximately 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation
  • Deforestation is the second-largest human-caused source of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, second only to the consumption of fossil fuels.
  • The tropical forests, which are being rapidly cut down hold 228-247 gigatons of carbon. (World Wildlife Foundation)

Scary Stats About the Future of Rainforests

Buying new hardwood flooring? Tips for buying sustainably harvested wood.
Buying new hardwood flooring? Tips for buying sustainably harvested wood.
  • The Siberian Tiger– the world’s largest cat- is literally on the brink of extinction with only about 400 individuals remaining in their natural habitat.
  • Many of our favorite iconic species are critically endangered due to deforestation, including all species of big cats and all species of big apes
  • An estimated 137 species of plants and animals are driven into extinction every day due to deforestation
  • If deforestation continues at this rate, the rainforests could be gone in < 40 years
  • We may only have 10% of our rainforests left by 2030. (The World Counts)
  • 28,000 species of animals will become extinct in the next 25 years due to deforestation. (One Tree Planted)

If these statistics about how the U.S. furniture industry impacts climate change and deforestation around the world are concerning to you, make sure to buy 100% American made furniture, and only that made with domestic hardwoods.

To learn more about how we’re fighting against climate change and deforestation, read about how our business promotes sustainability.

Additional Reading

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Riley Farabaugh

Riley Farabaugh

The youngest son of co-founders Peggy and Ken Farabaugh, Riley has filled different roles within the organization since it was founded out of a spare bedroom in the family home in 2005. As the son of the first Vermont Woods Studios craftsmen, Riley has been quickly learning more and more about woodworking, sustainable forestry, and the ins-and-outs of the furniture industry.