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Home / World / Deforestation: Tropical tree losses persist at a high level

Deforestation: Tropical tree losses persist at a high level



  Amazon deforestation

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Around 12 million hectares of forest in the tropical regions of the world were lost in 2018, equivalent to 30 soccer fields per minute.

While this means a decline in 201

6 and 2017, this is still the fourth highest loss rate since records began in 2001.

Of particular concern is the continued destruction of so-called primary forests.

An area of ​​these older, pristine trees the size of Belgium was lost in 2018.

Why is this new data important?

The Global Forest Watch report paints a complex picture of what is happening in the heavily forested tropical regions of the world, from the Amazon in South America through West and Central Africa to Indonesia.

An estimated 20 million people live in the forests of the Amazon Basin. Among them are dozens of tribes living in voluntary isolation.

The trees in these regions are important not only for the provision of food and shelter, but also for the world as a carbon stock and play a key role in the regulation of global climate change. [19659005] Millions of acres of these forests have been lost in recent decades after being cleared for commercial or agricultural interests.

The 2018 data show a decline compared to the two previous years when a large number of trees were lost due to burn-up.

Respondents say that this good news is a bit more qualified.

"It's really tempting to celebrate a second year of decline since the loss of tree cover in 2016," said Frances Seymour of the World Resources Institute, which heads Global Forest Watch.

"But Looking Back Over the past 18 years, it's clear the general trend is still up and we're far from being able to win this battle."

What are primary forests and why are they important?

Primary forests are those that exist in their original state and are virtually untouched by humans.

These areas are sometimes referred to as primeval forests and can house trees that are hundreds or even thousands of years old.

They are important for biodiversity conservation and host animals such as jaguars, tigers, orangutans and mountain gorillas.

These ancient forests are really important as carbon stocks, which is why the loss of 3.6 million hectares in 2018 is affected.

"For every hectare of forest loss, we've come one step closer to the scary scenarios of raging climate change," said Frances Seymour.

Is it just about the Amazon?

Unfortunately not!

As early as 2002, Brazil and Indonesia accounted for 71% of tropical jungle losses. In 2018, these two countries accounted for 46%.

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The Democratic Republic of Congo is now the country with the second largest losses by area, while countries such as Colombia, Bolivia and Peru recorded an increase in primary forest decline.

Colombia continued the dramatic rise of 2016. It was linked to the peace process in the country where areas of the Amazon, once held by FARC guerrillas, have now been opened up for development.

Madagascar lost 2% of its total primary forest in 2018. That was more than any other tropical country.

The disappearance of these trees causes "heartbreaking losses in real locations," said Frances Seymour.

"All too often, the loss of a wooded area is also associated with a funeral, because every year hundreds of people are murdered when trying to prevent miners, loggers, ranchers and other commercial interests from appropriating their forest wealth Imperative to act on these numbers is undeniable and urgent. "

What is going on in West Africa?

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Caption

Cocoa cultivation in Ghana and the Ivory Coast played a role in the loss of the forest

Ghana and Ivory Coast have the highest percentage increase in primary forest losses in percentage terms. Ghana registered a massive 60% increase, while Ivory Coast saw a 26% increase.

Most of this increase, especially in Ghana, is likely due to small-scale gold mining. Cocoa cultivation has also increased.

Activists are worried that despite the commitments of leading cocoa and chocolate companies in 2017 to complete the deforestation within their supply chains, the activists are concerned.

Is there any good news?

Surprising, yes.

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Indonesia has worked hard not only to extinguish forest fires

Indonesia cut its jungle losses by around 40% in 2018, the lowest rate since 2003. The decline is due to a number of factors, including two wet years that limited the firing season.

However, government action has also played a strong role. In protected areas, deforestation has declined sharply, and an agreement with Norway to compensate the country for reducing emissions from tree felling has also made a difference.

"Our prosecution is another policy that shows we are serious," Dr. Belinda Margono from the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

"There are several companies in the country that have been or have been punished. I had a letter from the government, so we are really trying to prosecute."

What will be the new policy in Brazil?

Experts say it's too early to say whether the environmental laws introduced by President Jair Bolsonaro have made a difference.

The country saw a significant decline in deforestation of around 70% between 2007 and 2015.

The fires in 2016 and 2017 saw a renewed increase. While it was 1.3 million hectares lower in 2018, it was still above historical levels.

Global Forest Watch notes that in 2018 several hotspots with primary forest losses have occurred near or within indigenous territories. The Ituna Itata Reserve, home to some of the last uncontacted tribes in the world, saw more than 4,000 hectares of illegal eviction.

Global Forest Watch data has been updated by the University of Maryland.

Follow Matt on Twitter at @mattmcgrathbbc.


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