hectares per year between 2000 and 2010, with most happening in tropical countries¹. The loss of forests is regrettable not only due to the fact that trees provide a carbon sink which can help mitigate the impacts of climate change; but also because forests provide food and shelter to many species of fauna and flora that are losing their natural habitats. This is even more concerning when we take into account that about 80% of the world’s documented species can be found in tropical rainforests which are more vulnerable to deforestation².
In fact, over the decades deforestation has already led to the loss of several species. In fact, species began falling in numbers and going extinct already in the 19th century. Despite recorded species extinctions and attempts to recover particularly plants through remaining seeds, rates of biodiversity loss are not falling. Today, new research indicates that species that we may come across in our forests today, are likely not to survive the destruction of further deforestation³.
Below follow ten examples of species already lost due to deforestation or which are likely not to survive in the wild for another decade. Many more will follow suit if current practices for protecting forest habitats are not reversed.
St Helena Redwood
The last wild St Helena Redwood tree died in the 1950s and its extinction in the wild was a result of deforestation. Following the establishment of a permanent colony on St Helena in the 17th century, the woodlands were cleared to make way for pasture, timber and fuel⁴. This tree was endemic to St Helena, an island located in the South Atlantic Ocean which was also where the routes of environmentalism were established⁵.
While fossil remains indicate that it used to be relatively abundant on all the main islands of Hawaii, this species of crow is now extinct. It was vulnerable to population fluctuations, but destruction of its habitat was a key contributor. The Hawaiian Crow was important for the local environment for the dispersal and germination of seeds of native plants⁶.
Endemic to Bolivia, this was a kind of moss that would grow on another plant without and deriving its moisture and nutrients from the air, rain and sometimes the debris surrounding it. The extinction of Flabellidium spinosum, otherwise known as the Santa Cruz bryophyte, is owed to the fact that its forest habitat and its immediate vicinity has been logged and cultivated over the years⁷.
Also from the island St. Helena, this was a small tree otherwise known as the She Cabbage. Its disappearance was due to deforestation and fragmentation of its habitat⁸.
This is an extinct species of harvestmen from the Mahe Island in the Seychelles. It would have been found in woodland where it occurred in leaf litter but its decline has been recorded throughout the 20th century and it can be attributed to the extensive habitat degradation on Mahe during the 20th century⁹.
While not extinct, the pygmy racoon is critically endangered which means its future survival is seriously at risk and it go in fact go extinct very soon. Its population is confined to a single island, Cozumel Island, with fewer than 250 individuals and further population decreases being estimated. Up until recently, Cozumel Island was relatively well-conserved, but the situation is deteriorating rapidly putting further strains on the pygmy raccoon’s habitat¹⁰.
With only 40 trees left in the wild, the Carpoxylon Palm is also listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. It is endemic to three islands in the south of Vanuatu in the South Pacific and its uncertain future is exacerbated by extensive deforestation for agriculture¹¹.
This species originally found in southern temperate rainforests is considered to have the highest extinction risk of any Chilean mammal. Although protected by law, habitat loss due to farming and logging means the species is being pushed into less desirable habitat where there is an increased risk for their diminished numbers¹².
Due to an almost complete destruction of its forest habitat across East Africa, the species has come under increased pressure to the extent that the total populations is thought to be around 250 mature individuals. There is only one remaining viable population around a stream within a forest reserve; it is estimated that any changes to this stream could result in the extinction of this species. ¹³.
This species can be found in sub-montane to montane dry forest in Mexico but it has become threatened due to the serious destruction and reduction in size of its habitat. It is currently listed as critically endangered by the IUCN ¹⁴.