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“Going in the wrong direction”: More tropical forest loss in 2019

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.

“The level of forest loss we saw in 2019 is unacceptable,” said Frances Seymour, an associate with the World Resources Institute, an environmental research group that released the deforestation data through its Global Forest Watch program. “We seem to be going in the wrong direction.”

“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.

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.

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.”

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