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7 striking examples of deforestation from NASA

July 10, 2012, 6:31 p.m.

Photo: Courtesy of NASA. Source: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). From Latin America and the Caribbean Atlas of our Changing Environment (2010).

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Deforestation in Paraguay

There are two different kinds of rain forest, temperate and tropical. Both rain forests are notable for having a high accumulation of rainfall when compared to plant growth. Temperate rain forests generally have a lower rate of evaporation and cooler temperatures. They are much rarer and occur in coastal regions at 37-60° latitude. Both kinds of rain forests are found on every continent except Antarctica, and only 50 percent of these forests remain on Earth.


Here we see part of the South American Atlantic Forest, which NASA calls one of the most threatened tropical rain forests on Earth. On the left is Feb. 23, 1973. On the right is Jan. 10, 2008. In almost three decades, the forest has been cut down to only 7 percent of its original size. The forest runs along the Atlantic coast through parts of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. However, it is the Paraguay part of the forest that has been most decimated. Tropical rain forests of our planet play a key part in cooling the planet. And this is not just South America’s problem. “Tropical deforestation will disrupt rainfall pattern far outside the tropics, including China, northern Mexico, and the south-central United States,” writes NASA.