February 3, 2023

Crucial tropical forests were destroyed at a rate of 10 soccer fields a minute last year

4 min read

The damage was less severe than in 2020, but deforestation in the tropics is still at an alarming rate. According to the WRI, of the area lost, 3.75 million hectares was the basic tropical forest – sometimes called the Virgin Rain Forest – equivalent to 10 football fields per minute.

Basic tropical forests in particular are critical to the planet’s ecological balance, providing oxygen that supports life and as a hotspot for biodiversity.

They are also rich in stored carbon, and when these forests are logged or burned, they release carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, which contributes to global warming. Only basic tropical deforestation emissions released 2.5 gigatonnes of CO2 last year, comparable to emissions from burning fossil fuels in India, the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases. ۔

“The important thing to understand is that forests, especially tropical forests, are part of the global climate system,” WRI Senior Fellow Francis Seymour told CNN. “So they’re not mechanical carbon storage devices, they’re actually affecting energy transfer and atmospheric humidity in ways that affect rainfall, which affects global circulation patterns.”

Fires are also increasingly contributing to the loss of tropical forests. There is a complex effect between deforestation and climate change, Seymour said.

“When deforestation occurs, when deforestation occurs, it not only contributes carbon to the atmosphere, but also disrupts rainfall patterns and increases local temperatures in such a way that, for example, “The rest of the forest is more vulnerable to fire, and warmer, drier conditions. Come with climate change,” Seymour said.

The analysis focused primarily on tropical forests – which can be found in countries ranging from Brazil to Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – as more than 96% of deforestation, or forest cover due to humans, Removal is done there.

The results were based on satellite imagery, which estimated how tree cover changes over time. Damage to tree cover or canopy in tropical areas often means that the forest has been destroyed. In other countries, where tree planting is less common, this may mean that tree tops are destroyed, such as in the event of a fire, but the forest remains intact.

Some experts fear that these forests may be moving towards emissions by absorbing carbon dioxide.

However, boreal forests – especially those found in colder climates, including Russia, Canada and Alaska – saw the most damage to tree cover on record last year. More than 8 million hectares were damaged, an increase of about one-third from 2020.

The main reason for this is that Russia suffered a particularly severe fire, which destroyed 6.5 million hectares of tree cover.

This fire can cause what scientists call feedback loops, “in which increasing fires emit more carbon, which leads to hotter, drier weather, which causes more fires, and Similarly, “says the analyst.

In the tropics, Brazil lost more than 40% of its forests last year. About 1.5 million hectares of forests in the country have been wiped off the map, mostly from the Amazon. That’s three times more than the DRC, which lost the second largest amount of forest.

In Brazil, a major driver of deforestation is agricultural expansion, which increased by 9% between 2020 and 2021.

WRI analysis warns that deforestation is pushing Amazon to a tipping point, where it will no longer be able to act as the world’s most important carbon sink and even become a net emitter of CO2. Can The Amazon is the world’s largest rainforest, and it plays a key role in biodiversity, managing the climate, and providing ecosystem services to the millions of people who live there.

Seymour said that if this tipping point is passed, the world’s efforts to keep global warming at 1.5-2 degrees Celsius exceed pre-industrial levels – as stated in the 2015 Paris Agreement. – “Will be blown out of the water,” Seymour said.

The main sources of deforestation in Brazil

A success story

Among its serious consequences, the analysis gave some reason for optimism. Indonesia and Malaysia, which have been battling deforestation for decades, have both seen a decline in tree cover each year for five consecutive years. Indonesia’s deforestation fell by 25% last year.

According to Hidayah Hamza, senior manager of WRI’s Forest and Pet Monitoring in Indonesia, this is a sign that corporate commitments and government initiatives are working.

“This shows that corporate commitments and government initiatives are clearly working,” he told reporters at a briefing. “Indonesia is moving in the right direction to fulfill some of its climate promises.”

However, Malaysia has lost one-fifth of its core tropical forests since 2001 and one-third by the 1970s.

Hamza added that Indonesia’s success was due to the government’s improved logistics licenses for basic forests and petlands, as well as improved fire monitoring. A policy Called NDPE – no deforestation, no petland, no exploitation – now covers more than 80% of palm oil refining capacity in Indonesia and Malaysia, the world’s largest oil exporters. Are, and more than 80% of the pulp and paper industry in Indonesia

It may look like grass, but it has the power to absorb our carbon emissions.

But the WRI also warns that palm oil prices could reach 40-year highs, putting the country’s forests under increasing pressure. Indonesia has also lifted a temporary freeze on new permits for palm oil orchards.

Although overall tree loss was reduced last year, annual improvements are not enough to meet global commitments, including a declaration that 140 countries signed during climate talks in Glasgow last year. Signed to “stop deforestation by 2030”

Seymour also warned against relying too heavily on forests to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, saying companies and countries should use them to move beyond decarbonization efforts – dramatically. By reducing the use of fossil fuels – or eliminating emissions that are impossible to cut. Current technology.

The airline industry is an example, as carbon-free flight technology is not yet widely available.

“So, yes, we want them to reduce emissions as soon as possible and invest in new technologies that allow carbon-free flights, but in the meantime, they are ‘unbridled’ emissions,” he said. ۔ “And compensating those who buy carbon credits can provide a source of income that we desperately need to encourage the protection of the world’s forests.”

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