"Although tropical forests cover only about 7 percent of the Earth’s dry land, they probably harbor about half of all species on Earth. Many species are so specialized to microhabitats within the forest that they can only be found in small areas. Their specialization makes them vulnerable to extinction."
Deforestation is clearing Earth's forests on a massive scale, often resulting in damage to the quality of the land. Forests still cover about 30 percent of the world’s land area, but swaths the size of Panama are lost each and every year.
The world’s rain forests could completely vanish in a hundred years at the current rate of deforestation.
"Tropical forests in Amazonia are being cleared rapidly, representing an important contribution to land-use and land-cover change. While some processes are common to forests throughout the world, others are not. Amazonian clearing is dominated by large cattle ranchers, with an increasing role being played by soybeans. Small farmers and estate crops such as oil palm have less relative importance here than elsewhere."
From the NY Times: "Even before the recent oil spill, the Gulf of Mexico was hardly pristine. The Gulf, like almost all large bodies of water, must balance industry and recreation, fishing and development. It provides up to one-third of the country’s commercial fishing and shellfish — along with 27 percent of its domestically produced oil and 20 percent of domestic natural gas. Mexico, too, with its big oil industry and growing population, puts its own stresses on the Gulf. "