The planet lost an area of tree cover larger than the United Kingdom in 2020, including more than 4.2 million hectares of primary tropical forests, according to data released today by the University of Maryland.
Here’re several thing that we need to know:
- The losses were particularly severe in humid tropical primary forests, such as the Amazon, the Congo and south-east Asia, led by rising deforestation and incidence of fire in the Amazon, Earth’s largest rainforest.
- Altogether, 12.2m hectares of tree cover were lost in the tropics in 2020, an increase of 12% on 2019.
- Losses from this type of forest equivalent to the annual carbon dioxide emissions of more than 575m cars, released 2.64 billion tons of carbon.
- Brazil’s forested areas fared the worst, with 1.7m hectares destroyed, an increase of about a quarter on the previous year.
- The DRC, in second place, lost 490,000 hectares of primary forest in 2020.
- Bolivia rose to number three with nearly 276,900 hectares lost, mainly due to fires.
- These losses are a “climate emergency. They’re a biodiversity crisis, a humanitarian disaster, and a loss of economic opportunity,” said Frances Seymour of the World Resources Institute, which is behind the report.
- “Nature has been whispering this risk to us for a long time. But now she is shouting.” Seymour said.
“Forests need to be on the agenda for Cop26. The world’s forests are still an enormous carbon sink, and we need to keep that carbon sequestered to avert catastrophic climate change.” she said in a press briefing.