The main reason for the disappearance of forests is their unsustainable exploitation, based on excessive usage. Trees are predominantly exploited for the purposes of firewood and timber, or clearcutting is done to expand the land for agricultural production. Illegal logging, which is still present in certain parts of the Western Balkans, is a significant factor in deforestation.
The area under forests that are minimally used has decreased globally by 92 million hectares between 2000 and 2013 (Living Planet Report 2018, WWF).
Clearcutting, regardless of the size of the area on which it is done, causes the disappearance and fragmentation of the natural habitats of many wild plant and animal species that depend on forest. This has the effect of reducing the numbers of wildlife population and endangering their survival, and often leads to their complete extinction. Many of these species are key to maintaining the functionality of ecosystems and its services.
In addition to this, trees absorb carbon dioxide and convert it to organic matter. In this way, forests store carbon in biomass. With the destruction of forests, significant carbon “storages” disappear, which, thus released, is then stored in the atmosphere and accelerates climate change. At the same time, the destruction and loss of natural forest ecosystems disrupts their services of cultural importance to man, such as recreation, tourism and the like.