Deforestation - Tropical tree losses persist at high levels | Eurasia Diary -

18 July, Thursday

Deforestation - Tropical tree losses persist at high levels

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

While this represents a decline on 2016 and 2017, it is still the fourth highest rate of loss since records began in 2001.

Of particular concern is the continued destruction of what are termed primary forests.

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

The Global Forest Watch report paints a complex picture of what's going on in the heavily forested tropical regions of the world that range from the Amazon in South America, through West and Central Africa to Indonesia.

The forests of the Amazon basin are home to an estimated 20 million people. Among them are dozens of tribes living in voluntary isolation.

As well as providing food and shelter, the trees in these regions are important to the world as stores of carbon dioxide and play a key role in regulating global climate change.

Millions of hectares of these forests have been lost in recent decades, having been cleared by commercial or agricultural interests.

The data from 2018 shows a drop from the previous two years, which saw a huge amount of trees lost to fire.

However, those involved in the research say this good news is somewhat qualified.

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

"But if you look back over the last 18 years, it is clear that the overall trend is still upwards. We are nowhere near winning this battle."


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