Why is deforestation still such a huge problem if we are using less and less paper?


As we covert to a more digital world, why is there still a “need” for so many trees? Is it just for farmland/livestock acres or other products?

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We are still using a lot of paper. And making furniture. And building houses. We use lots of wood.

Most of it is clearing land for alternate purposes. Trees for timber and paper are generally from managed wood where the trees are replanted. (Also construction & packaging has always been a way bigger user of wood than paper)

I get a trees worth of paper in my mailbox every week…how “they” haven’t done anything about the ocean of unsolicited mail that never stops is insane.

Amazon is clearing land for soy or beef production. Indonesia/Malaysia it’s for oil palm cultivation. It’s absolutely devastating – removing the most ecologically productive and diverse terrestrial ecosystems for monocultures is permanent, and results in obscene amounts of emissions; palm oil plantations are also known as the silent forests since there’s no animal life in them…

Trees aren’t just cut down to make paper.

Trees are also cut down for their wood, which is used in everything from construction to making furniture to fuel for heating.

Quite often trees are not cut down to make anything of them except room.

A lot of deforestation is down to burning down forest to make room for agriculture and ranching.

Your average burger is responsible for a more deforestation than all the paperwork you do all year.

Much of the trees used for paper and some types of wood are grown specifically for that.

Rain-forests being cut down to gaze cattle is a completely different thing.

The focus on using less paper as a way to “save the forests” was largely created as a way to give people a feeling of control, of personal responsibility. In reality, clearing forests is more about freeing up land for agriculture, mostly grazing animals.


The largest driver of deforestation is agriculture. And the largest agricultural product associated with deforestation is grazing land for cattle or clearing for feed crop for cattle.


Trees are cut down just as often to clear land for farming as to harvest the wood for wood based products like furniture, wood fires, construction as well as paper. Sometimes the purpose is for both clearing and wood products

Most deforeststion takes place to make room for agriculture. Thus deforeststion is not as strongly linked to paper/wood consumption as it is to food security and economic need.

Paper is generally made from managed woods where the loggers replant trees after they harvest from a specific region. Same goes for most timber used in construction. The era of clear cutting to make paper ended 50-100 years ago.

The places like South America that are having deforestation problems are having them not because people are wanting the trees to make things. It is a problem because people are clearing the land for other things. Mostly Farms and Ranches, but also the building of towns and cities. They are literally taking the space and not allowing the trees to grow back.

Wood used for paper and construction is typically farmed. It’s much cheaper and more reliable for the logging companies to operate farms than to cut down wild forests. We are not really at any risk of running out of farmed trees, any more than we are at risk of running out of corn or any other farmed crop.

Most deforestation happens for farmland/livestock land. A lot of this deforestation affects old-growth forests that take many decades or centuries to fully recover.

I’m really not sure that as we move to a more digital world, we are using less paper. Unfortunately, when the office computer was invented, so was the laser printer. It made it extremely easy to print multiple copies of very long documents. According to a newspaper report that I will not link to because I hate them so much, paper usage increased by 50% from 1980 to 2012.