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The latest news on the world’s forests

We keep losing forests at an alarming rate, according to recently published data by Global Forest Watch.

“The tropics lost 12.2 million hectares of tree cover in 2020, according to new data from the University of Maryland and available on Global Forest Watch,” says a GFW article published at the end of last month.

“Of that, 4.2 million hectares, approximately the size of the Netherlands, disappeared in humid tropical primary forests, which are especially important for carbon storage and biodiversity. The resulting carbon emissions from this  primary forest loss (2.64 Gt CO2) are equivalent to the annual emissions of 570 million cars, more  than double the number of cars on the road in the United States.” 

Primary forest loss was 12% higher in 2020 than the year before. It was the second year in a row  that primary forest loss worsened specifically in the tropics. The majority of tropical primary forest loss occurred in the Brazilian Amazon, with a 15% increase  from last year, for a total of 1.5 million hectares lost. Brazil is followed by DRC and Bolivia in the top 3 countries for primary forest loss.

When reading such terrible news again and again, it’s easy to give up any hope. There are some good signs, though, like the fact that Malaysia’s primary forest loss declined for the fourth year in a row, and that Indonesia is no longer in the top three countries for primary forest loss. This can be explained by systemic changes – positive government initiatives, market influences such as declining palm oil prices – and the current pandemic, which in Indonesia led to a slowdown in forest-clearing activities such as plantation expansion. So nothing to get too excited about at this point. 

We are, however, seeing positive signs as more corporates engage in supporting reforestation and take action against deforestation, probably as everyone now understands the link between biodiversity loss and the pandemic. The launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration this year is probably very timely.

GFW is an open-source web application to monitor global forests close to real time, and is an initiative of the World Resources Institute. Read their full article here.

Article title: What Happened to Global Forests in 2020? | Global Forest Watch Blog
Website title: Global Forest Watch Content, last access: 08.04.2021

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