Tropical Forests

Deforestation is a major cause of global warming and habitat loss, and many common consumer products contribute to it. Our experts explain how UCS is fighting deforestation—and how you can help.


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Forest Service photo by Grizelle González

Forest Service Budget Cuts Will Deprive US Communities of Forestry Science that Improves Climate Resilience

, Climate Vulnerability Social Scientist

“Trees are the answer.” The maxim was on a sticker on my PhD mentor’s office door at Arizona State University (ASU). But what was the question? Turns out, there were a lot of them.

  • How to reduce extreme heat in cities? More trees can provide shading and absorb humidity, contributing to lowering the heat index.
  • How to improve urban air quality? More trees that can breathe in more air pollutants.
  • How to stabilize coastal areas from erosion and reduce flooding from hurricanes? Protect mangrove trees and the ecosystems that sustain them, nurture them to grow strong roots, and they will act as barriers against storm surge and even tsunamis. Read more >
Forest Service photo by Grizelle González
Forest Service photo by Maria M. Rivera
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Amazon Deforestation and Brazilian President Bolsonaro’s Attack on Science

Doug Boucher,

Science is always a potential threat to authoritarian rulers, because it uncovers truths that contradict their lies.

Recently we’ve seen a dramatic example of this conflict in Brazil, where the director of the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) has been fired by the country’s new President, Jair Bolsonaro, for releasing data showing a substantial increase in Amazon deforestation. Read more >

Photo: Brazilian things/Wikimedia Commons
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Photo: Brazilian things/Wikimedia Commons

Amazon Deforestation in Brazil: What Does it Mean When There’s no Change?

, scientific adviser, Climate and Energy

I was recently invited by the editors of the journal Tropical Conservation Science to write an update of a 2013 article on deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon that I had published with Sarah Roquemore and Estrellita Fitzhugh. They asked me to review how deforestation has changed over the past five years. The most notable result, as you can see from the graph in the just-published article (open-access), is that overall it hasn’t changed. And that’s actually quite surprising.

Read more >

Photo: Brazilian things/Wikimedia Commons
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The Natural Ways to (Help) Solve the Climate Problem

, scientific adviser, Climate and Energy

This week marks the beginning of the annual U.N. climate negotiations in Bonn, chaired by the nation of Fiji, and this year it’s going to be different. At most of the negotiating sessions from the early 90s up to the Paris Agreement in 2015, the emphasis was, reasonably, on reaching a broad consensus on how to prevent dangerous climate change. But Paris achieved that, and all the world’s countries, with one exception—the United States—have accepted that agreement. So now the question is, how can we make it work? A real challenge—particularly since a key delegation to the talks is now led by the climate-denialist Trump administration.

Read more >

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Beef, Palm Oil and Taking Responsibility: A Comment That TheOilPalm Wouldn’t Publish

, scientific adviser, Climate and Energy

Back in December, I wrote a blog post about the importance of beef as the largest driver of deforestation. The following month, the Malaysian Palm Oil Council wrote a blog on their site, TheOilPalm.org, arguing that my blog proved that palm oil had been unfairly blamed for deforestation, and demanding an apology. Here’s why they’re wrong. Read more >

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