The destruction of tropical forests worldwide increased last year, led again by Brazil, which accounted for more than a third of the total, and where deforestation through deforestation seems to be increasing as part of the U.S. development policy, President of the Country.
The global total loss of old or primary tropical forest – 9.3 million acres, an area almost the size of Switzerland – was about 3 percent higher than in 2018 and the third largest since 2002. Only in 2016 and 2017 were the heat worse and drought led to record fires and deforestation, especially in Brazil.
“There has been so much international effort and rhetoric made to reduce deforestation, and companies and governments committed to all of these commitments that they will cut their tropical forest loss by half by 2020,” said Mikaela Weisse, who is the Global Forest Watch program manages. “We are concerned about the fact that it was so persistent.”
Global Forest Watch researchers estimated that the loss of the primary tropical forest in 2019 resulted in the release of more than 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide in a typical year, or more than the emissions of all road vehicles in the United States.
Ms. Seymour said the outlook for 2020 is not good as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
Restrictions on mobility and impending budget cuts due to the economic consequences of the global crisis could hamper efforts to enforce deforestation laws, she said. “Bad actors will try to exploit more illegal logging, mining, eviction and poaching.”
Global Forest Watch uses data from Researchers at the University of Maryland who have developed machine learning software to analyze satellite imagery for loss of tree cover. Overall, this loss in the tropics totaled nearly 30 million acres last year. Since 2000, the world has lost about 10 percent of its tropical tree cover.
Other deforestation analyzes show different numbers. Two United Nations organizations in their most recent report on the subject released last month said global deforestation has averaged 25 million acres a year since 2015. Your analysis is based on reports from each country.
Much of the tree cover loss revealed by Maryland researchers’ data comes from tree plantations or other areas that are not old growth forests. The scientists then conduct additional analyzes to determine the loss of these overgrown forests, which are important for the storage of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and for the conservation of biodiversity, and the restoration of which can take decades after destruction.
This destruction can occur in a number of ways: clearly for agriculture, animal husbandry, mining or other purposes, as well as for accompanying roads and other infrastructures; selective logging; or due to fires that occur as a result of land clearance measures but can get out of control.
Such fires occur every year in Brazil and many other tropical countries. Brazil had one high number in 2019, especially in August. The flames, which have been widely reported on social media, have been widely condemned by environmental groups and world leaders who have criticized Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
Mr. Bolsonaro, who took office in early 2019, has aggressively driven development in the Amazon region, including mining and large-scale agriculture, and has started reducing programs to protect indigenous areas.
Ms. Weisse said that the fires actually contributed relatively little to the total loss of approximately 3.4 million acres in Brazil’s primary forest in 2019, an amount that is only slightly above the 2018 total.
Many of the fires occurred in previously cleared areas that were burned in preparation for planting or raising cattle, she said. Only about a fifth of the fires burned in the primary forest.
Instead, data from the Brazilian government’s forest monitoring programs and other projects showed an increase in deforestation from primary forests for agriculture, Ms. Weisse said. “Although the general trend towards primary forest is only increasing slightly, we believe that deforestation is getting worse,” she said.
In neighboring Bolivia, fires were a major cause of the significant increase in deforestation in the past year. The country’s primary forest loss of 720,000 acres was almost double that of 2018. Bolivia ranks fourth in deforestation worldwide after Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Indonesia.
However, there were encouraging signs that efforts to reduce deforestation in 2019 had some results. Indonesia delivered rare good news, with primary forest loss declining for the third year in a row. The decline of 5 percent compared to 2018 to around 800,000 acres was recorded despite extensive fires in the country last autumn.
Widespread Fires at the beginning of the decade had led to extensive deforestation and dangerous air pollution that reached neighboring countries. Since then, the Indonesian government, under international pressure, has established guidelines that include a moratorium on land clearing for certain activities, increased enforcement of illegal forest clearance, and coordinated efforts to limit the spread of fires.
The data shows that although there was a significant number of fires in Indonesia last year, most of them occurred on land that had been degraded in the past, as was the case in Brazil.
Colombia also showed improvement in other countries, with deforestation declining similarly to 2016. A peace agreement between the government and a leftist guerrilla movement earlier this year, which had strictly enforced deforestation under his control, had created a power vacuum in these areas, and illegal logging could increase. Deforestation rose rapidly in 2017 and 2018.
In Central Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo showed little sign of progress. Annual primary forest loss has more than doubled since 2012, and although the total for 2019 was slightly lower than last year, it was higher than 2017. “We are seeing sustained losses,” said Elizabeth Goldman, a research manager for Global Forest Watch. While most deforestation appears to be related to subsistence farming, There are indications that some may be related to large-scale commercial agriculture or mining.
In West Africa, both Ghana and Ivory Coast showed a significant decrease in primary forest loss, as the data showed. Ghana’s total area of around 14,000 hectares was the lowest since 2014; Ivory Coast had the lowest total since 2005 at 29,000 acres.
Deforestation in both countries was largely driven by the increase in cocoa production on the world markets. Governments in both countries, as well as large cocoa and chocolate producers, had agreed initiatives to reduce or end deforestation. The decline is a sign that these efforts could work, said Ms. Weisse, although “it is still a little early to say too much because it is only a year.”