Photos courtesy of World Wildlife Fund
Did you know that 80 percent of the known terrestrial plant and animal species are found in forests? A single square kilometer of wooded land can contain as many as 1,000 different species! Sadly, that kind of abundant biodiversity is becoming increasingly rare as rampant deforestation continues at an alarming rate around the world.
To raise awareness about the importance of the world's forest ecosystems, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is launching an Earth Day social media campign that encourages people to snap photos of themselves hugging trees and share it with the tag "#HugATree." Visit WWF's website to learn more and to see all the people who have expressed their love of trees so far.
But before you dash out the door to embrace the closest tree, ftake a moment to learn about some of nature's greatest treehuggers with these gorgeous photos of koalas, pandas, sloths, orangutans and others!
Photo: © naturepl.com/Tim Laman/WWF
Because wild orangutans live in only two places in the world — the forested islands of Borneo and Sumatra — their existence is endangered by development-fueled deforestation that is currently closing in on them from all sides.
Photo: © naturepl.com/Juan Carlos Munoz/WWF
These slow-moving (yet extremely charismatic) creatures spend the vast majority of their lives hanging around in trees, so they are entirely dependent on the continued existence of leafy expanses of forest.
Photo: © naturepl.com / Juan Carlos Munoz / WWF
Found in the mountainous bamboo forests of western China, giant pandas have long been a symbol of conservation efforts (most prominently in the WWF logo!) due to habitat loss and low birthrates.
Photo: © Martin Harvey/WWF
These beloved marsupials aren't considered endangered, but their conservation within urbanized areas has become a major issue in recent years. As trees are cut down for development, these beloved furballs are often left with few places for refuge. This means koalas are often in danger of being hit by cars or attacked by domestic dogs.
Photo: © Vin J. Toledo/WWF
Green tree snakes
If you happen to be hiking around the humid forests of southern Asia, keep an eye out for these green beauties. It isn't uncommon to find them curled up around a hanging branch!
Photo: © WWF-US/Jennafer Bonello
With their powerful tails and long, slender arms and legs, squirrel monkeys are perfectly adapted for a life of bounding across the vast, thick canopies of Central America's forests.
Photo: © Martin Harvey/WWF
Although plenty of cats are technically capable of climbing trees, getting back down to the ground can be an entirely different challenge. But not for leopards! This big cats species relies on its powerful upper body strength to climb, hunt and even drag prey into the trees for dinner.
Photo: © John E. Newby/WWF
Native to both Africa and southern Asia, these fascinating nocturnal critters spend quite a bit of time in trees hunting and eating bugs. The pangolin's scaled armor and ability to curl up like a pill bug are its main mode of defense against predators, but sadly, all eight species of pangolin are listed as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered due to poaching and deforestation.
Photo: © Vivek R. Sinha/WWF
These striped felines are the largest species of cat in the world, and they can be found in a variety of habitats — from grasslands, tropical jungles or even swampy mangrove forests.
Photo: © naturepl.com/Anup Shah/WWF
Western lowland gorillas
Although these critically endangered gentle giants hail from the rain forests of Africa's Congo Basin, you probably won't find them swinging through the trees like other primates. Instead, these fascinating animals roam the forest floors in small family groups.
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