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Deforestation, explained

Find out about what deforestation is and how we are helping tackle it.

Deforestation is having devastating effects for millions of people living in the drylands of Africa. That's why we work with local people to protect and manage forests for now, and for the future.


What is deforestation?

Deforestation is when trees are cut down to clear land and make room for something other than forests, like farmland for animals or crops. Trees that are cut down are often sold as building materials, firewood or charcoal.

But without new trees being planted, the land can suffer. With no trees to stabilise the soil, the land is rapidly degrading and essential nutrients that help crops grow are being lost. 

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    hectares of forest landscapes are already degraded in Africa

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    of deforestation in Africa is to clear land for agriculture

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    hectares of forest lost per year across Africa between 1990-2000

Mbole, a man in Ghana who is participating in a Tree Aid project, is sitting on degraded land with his family. Photo credit: Rowan Griffiths, Daily Mirror

The effects are devastating

Local people can no longer grow enough food and many are forced to migrate in search of a better life.

Protected habitats are destroyed and wildlife is forced into villages in search of food, causing an increase in human-wildlife conflict where animals destroy crops, cattle and homes.

That’s why we are working to reduce deforestation and promote reforestation across Africa’s drylands. 

How is Tree Aid helping?

We campaign for forests to be managed by local people who depend on them for food and incomeWe work with local people, organisations and policymakers, to limit damaging practices, like clearing of forests for farms, and help to agree rules for using forests and their resources.

With management of forests placed into the hands of the community, they can then protect existing trees, and grow even more. This means they can improve the soil quality for better harvests and create a more stable environment for years to come. 

Tree Aid's contribution in 2018/19

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    hectares of land protected and restored

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    trees grown in Africa's drylands

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    community forest management plans established

Sabine, a woman in Mali on Tree Aid's strengthening forest management project, walking through a degraded landscape with a bowl of shea nuts on her head.

“When I was young, the landscape here was covered with all sorts of plant species. Then came the exploitation of natural resources — people excessively felled trees. Tree Aid gave us training on the different techniques for reforestation of completely depleted areas.” Sabine, Ségou, Mali

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Women in Ghana carrying tree saplings on their heads to a planting site where they will plant them, helping to grow the Great Green Wall. Photo credit: Rowan Griffiths, Daily Mirror.

The Great Green Wall

Our reforestation work is also part of a bigger movement. Every tree or forest that we plant or protect contributes to the Great Green Wall initiativeThis African-led movement aims to grow an 8,000km natural world wonder across the entire width of Africa.  

Tree Aid grows one tree every 19 seconds for the Great Green Wall, helping to grow better futures for millions of people living in poverty.