A damning report by the World Resources Institute sheds light on the extent at which planet earth’s forests are shrinking through deforestation, logging and wildfires. In 2022, the planet lost an area of tropical rain-forest the size of Switzerland or the Netherlands.
According to a report by the World Resources Institute (WRI), the destruction was caused by a combination of wildfires and deforestation for agriculture and logging. The authors say an area the size of a football pitch was destroyed every five seconds.
Its satellite-based deforestation monitoring platform, Global Forest Watch (GFW), recorded the destruction in 2022 of more than 4.1 million hectares of primary tropical forest, crucial for the planet’s biodiversity and carbon storage.
The country hardest hit is Brazil, with an area destroyed accounting for 43% of global losses, ahead of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (13%) and Bolivia (9%).
We are losing one of our most effective tools for combating climate change, protecting biodiversity and supporting the health and livelihoods of millions of people, says GFW Director Mikaela Weisse.
The primary tropical forests destroyed in 2022 released 2.7 billion tonnes of CO2, equivalent to the annual emissions of India, the world’s most populous country.
As a result, forest destruction continues to accelerate inexorably, despite the commitments made by the world’s leading leaders at COP26 in Glasgow in 2021.
Some 1.6 billion people, almost half of them indigenous peoples, depend directly on forest resources for their livelihoods.
In Brazil, deforestation has continued to worsen during the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro (2019-2023), increasing by a further 15% in one year, according to the GFW’s annual report.
Under former military captain Bolsonaro, the Brazilian administration turned a blind eye to illegal deforestation, weakened indigenous rights and dismantled the country’s environmental policy.
His successor, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, inaugurated in January, has pledged to halt the destruction of the Brazilian Amazon by 2030. However, experts believe that he will have to overcome a number of fabricated challenges to achieve this.
Some 90 billion tonnes of CO2 are stored in the trees and soils of the Amazon rain forest, twice the annual global emissions. Stopping and reversing forest loss is one of the most cost-effective ways of mitigating (the situation) that we have today.
Chinese trade and investment in the central African Congo basin are on the rise.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, more than half a million hectares of forest had been destroyed by 2022, according to the report. This was mainly due to agriculture and the production of charcoal, which is vital for households, 80% of which have no electricity.
A half-billion-dollar agreement to protect the Congo Basin rain-forest was signed by the DRC in 2021. But it has been undermined by a recent call for tenders for oil licenses and gas blocks launched by the authorities.
In third place, Bolivia failed to reduce the rate of deforestation – and in fact, increased by 32% compared to 2021. Cocoa production, gold mining and fires are the main reasons for this, according to the researchers.
In Indonesia, on the other hand, forest destruction has slowed for the fifth year running. The archipelago is responsible for 5% of global forest loss in 2021. It has seen the extent of its felled areas divided by more than four since 2016.
Forests have been growing in size in the EU over recent decades, but why are there such large discrepancies across the continent? Forests play a key role in the fight against pollution and environmental degradation.
They remove vast amounts of carbon dioxide, reduce the risks of natural disasters, help moderate air and soil temperatures and on top of all that they’re enchantingly beautiful. But in business reality these days 2.000 trees are being cut down per minute.
Now across much of the world these natural wonders are in decline. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 420 million hectares of forest, larger than the size of the EU, disappeared between 1990 and 2020.
Euro News Green / ABC Flash Point News 2023.