An Evergreen Planet
Preserving our World’s Natural Forests

Deforestation is a Global Crisis

Forests cover almost one third of the land on our planet and produce essential oxygen, materials, and habitat for the survival of species on Earth. However these ecosystems are under threat, as humans have plowed through forested regions at alarming rates, for timber, agriculture, and land in a process called “deforestation”.

Deforestation is often due to economic incentives that make forest conversion more profitable than forest preservation. Between 2000 and 2012, only 2.4 million square miles of the original 6 million square miles of forest covering Earth remain.

More background open_in_new

You Draw it

This interactive activity allows you to draw your prediction of the Earth's global forest acreage looks like with your mouse cursor. You may edit your predictions by dragging the dotted blue line. Click the "Show Actual" to reveal an animation with the true statistics and compare your guess!

Show Actual

Amazon Rainforest

This forest is the largest in the world with 5.5 million kilometers with unique species. By 1995, 70% of formerly forested land in the Amazon, and 91% of land deforested since 1970, had been converted to cattle ranching.

Canadian Forests

Dense forests span the entirety of the Canada wilderness. Forests are a major source of wealth for Canadians, generating $19.8 billion in 2013 and providing a wide range of economic, social and environmental benefits.

East Siberian Tiga

This forest cradles the upper border of Europe and Asia. The demand for resources in world markets increases deforestation. In particular, the increase of illegal felling, which accounts for 30-70% of total, causes both environment and economic loss.

= 100,000 trees

An Alarming Rate

The global impact of deforestation is overwhelming, particularly over the last few decades. Human apathy has resulted in steep declines from 1990 to 2012. This visualization reflects the steady drop in land mass of the world's dense natural forests.

“When the productive lands lose their essence, our productive lives shall least have essence!”
― Ernest Agyemang Yeboah


Socioeconomic Discrepancy

Although deforestation is a global issue, we examine that countries are affected disproportionately around the world. Wealthier countries are more likely to experience forest growth while poorer countries carry the burden of environmental destruction in order to generate profit and provide for their communities.

Hover over the visualization to explore different country deforestation rates.

Deforestation Rate versus Country GDP per Capita

info Click Once to Filter, Twice to Reset

East Asia & Pacific
Sub-Saharan Africa
Middle East & North Africa
Europe & Central Asia
Latin America & Caribbean
North America
South Asia
Radius = Country Population
Color = Geographic Region
Wealth & Environmental Inequality

In the above scatterplot, we observe that there is a large cluster of low GDP countries experiencing high deforestation rates. The following overlapping line chart presents a breakdown by socioeconomic level that makes the discrepancy increasingly evident. Wealthier countries have more leverage to negotiate environmental protection at the expense of their less endowed peers.

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Change in Forest Area by Socioeconomic Class

Game of Privilege

This game demonstrates the stark difference in bargaining power between countries with different GDPs. The areas are divided proportionally by three different socioeconomic classes. Green corresponds to USA, Orange to Portugal, and Purple to Zimbabwe. Throughout playing, you may experience that it is much easier to score as the USA than Zimbabwe.


  1. Press "space" to start the game
  2. Use the arrow keys to move the spinner
  3. Match the same colored dots and sectors
  4. Work toward a high score! The game ends after too many missed pieces.
  5. Or press "space" to stop playing.
  6. Refresh the page to restart.

Future Readings

In you're interested in learning more about deforestation, beyond what we've presented here, take a look at some of the materials below.

FIRST for sustainability
National Geographic
Live Science


CS 171

Thank you to the CS 171 course and staff for a great semester learning d3! We appreciate your patience and guidance.

World Bank Dataset
Process Book
Demo Video



Below are a few organizations who work hard on the issue of deforestation.

Environmental Defense Fund
Conservation International
Rainforest Alliance


Our Team


Kevin Huang

Harvard '18
Jericho, NY // Lowell House


Jesse Zhang

Harvard '19
Boulder, CO // Kirkland House


Christine Zhang

Harvard '18
San Ramon, CA // Mather House