Insight Into: Deforestation

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The vitality of our planet and its inhabitants is deeply intertwined with the health of the world's forests. This introduction to deforestation outlines the challenges faced when biodiversity is reduced. 

Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with the NASA Earth Observatory.

Photographs and Animations
  • Rotating Earth: Reto Stockli/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Dusky Leaf Monkey in Kaeng Krachan National Park: Rushen, Wikimedia Commons
  • Rafflesia flower: Steve Cornish, Wikimedia Commons
  • Jungle: pmvchamara, Pixabay
  • Orange-headed Thrush: Ruchenb, Wikimedia Commons
  • Deforestation in New Zealand: Martin Wegmann, Wikimedia Commons
  • Lear’s Macaw: Marcos Pereira, Wikimedia Commons
  • Pitcher Plant: samananda108, Pixabay
  • Brown Spider Monkey: Tom Friedel, Wikimedia Commons
  • Golden Toad: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Hematology lab: O’Connor Hospital
  •  Parque Indígena do Xingu: Agência Brasil, Wikimedia Commons 
  •  Amazon Rainforest, Colombia: Jorge Medina, Wikimedia Commons 
  •  Blue Mountains, Australia: J. W. C. Adam, Wikimedia Commons 
Video design and production by STScI
Text by STScI, based on stories from the NASA Earth Observatory:
Music courtesy of APM

The earth rotates in space. Red line across center. Text, equator. Around the middle of our planet, along the equator, wraps a band of lush green forests brimming with extraordinary biodiversity.
Images, a monkey, a flower, a bird, a canopy of trees. Text, though these tropical forests cover only about seven percent of Earth's land, they are home to roughly half of all the species living on our planet.
But humans are cutting down large sections of these forests to make way for other uses. Image, a largely cleared forest on a hill.
Images, a parrot, a monkey, an orange frog, a tube like plant. Text, many species are disappearing, some forever.
Text, we also lose vibrant cultures as indigenous peoples who have lived in the forests for centuries are displaced and integrated into other cultures. Image, large huts line the perimeter of a circular clearing.
As this happens, we lose the kind of genetic diversity that could hold the secrets to curing cancer or other diseases. Image, a scientists looks at a sample using a microscope.
Text, the vitality of our planet and its inhabitants is deeply intertwined with the health of the world's forests. A lush green river.