| || There is still snow on the ground in Prescott National Forest. And there are still trees there too. The latter would be absent if this had not been designated a protected area in 1898. Gold prospectors, who flooded to Arizona in the mid-nineteenth century, did not skimp on their wood consumption. To save the forests, the government was forced to designate nature reserves. The first were declared in 1891. Since then, more than 185 million acres (75 million ha) of the 558 million acres (226 million ha) of forests in the United States have been saved from illegal logging. They are not only attractive and an asset for tourism, they are also of ecological value. The preservation of species depends, first of all, upon the preservation of their habitats. Worldwide, 12 percent of the 9,553 million acres (3,866 million ha) of forest are protected. But deforestation continues: 494 million acres (200 million ha) have been lost over the last 15 years—equivalent to twice the area of South Africa or four times that of Spain.
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