Terrestrial ecosystems are important for social and economic reasons through both their products – such as timber, fruits, etc. – and their services – such as water vapor. Although about one-third of the landmass in the world is covered by forest, we have lost a significant amount to deforestation. On a more positive note, there has been a reduction in deforestation rates in the Americas, particularly in Brazil. This chapter addresses why loss of forests is significant; notable, forests are critical for terrestrial biodiversity, producing moisture in the atmosphere for rainfall, and storing carbon stocks. About 1.5 billion people depend on forests for their socio-economic livelihoods to different degrees. These oftentimes indigenous communities are generally considered poor because they have difficulty accessing health services and education, but in fact have great resources and suffer rights-based issues.
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