New Delhi, Apr 26 : A study conducted by Global Forest Watch has revealed that climate change has destroyed about 12 million hectares of tropical forests, which is equivalent to the size of England and 30 soccer fields, in 2018.
Global Forest Watch is an online forest monitoring and alert system that empowers people everywhere to better manage forests, whose study, published on Thursday, showed the third-largest decline since global satellite data became available in 2001.
Failure to stop tree cover loss has major implications for climate change, they warned, limiting the ability of the planet to soak up carbon emissions. "The world's forests are now in the emergency room," said Frances Seymour from the World Resources Institute, the research organization responsible for the study.
Forests absorb about 30 per cent of man-made global greenhouse gas emissions — just over 11 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. Oceans soak up the next largest portion. "The health of the planet is at stake, and band-aid responses are not enough," Seymour said. "With every hectare lost, we are that much closer to the scary scenario of runaway climate change."
A quarter of tropical tree cover loss took place in Brazil alone, with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia both accounting for about 10 per cent. There were also high levels of deforestation in Malaysia and Madagascar. For the first time, researchers were able to calculate the loss of undisturbed natural rainforest using satellite data. They found that much of the loss — an area about the size of Belgium — occurred in primary rainforest, with mature trees that absorb more carbon and are harder to replace. Almost a third of primary rainforest loss was in Brazil, with DR Congo, Indonesia, Colombia and Bolivia next in line.
New deforestation hot spots were revealed, particularly in Africa, where illegal mining, small-scale clearances and cocoa farm expansion led to notable tree loss in countries such as Ghana and the Ivory Coast. The study revealed at least one positive. In Indonesia, primary forest loss slowed for the second year running, dropping by 63 per cent compared to 2016. This happened after the government imposed a moratorium on forest-clearing.UNI