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article imageTwo-thirds of Earth's tropical rainforests destroyed or degraded

By Karen Graham     Mar 8, 2021 in Environment
Humans have degraded or destroyed roughly two-thirds of the world's original tropical rainforest cover, new data reveals – raising alarm that a key natural buffer against climate change is quickly vanishing.
According to a report by the non-profit Rainforest Foundation Norway, almost 34 percent of the world’s original old-growth tropical rainforests have been destroyed by humans, and another 30 percent have been degraded. According to the Independent, the forests are being razed for logging and land conversion, largely for agriculture.
Sadly, more than half of the destruction since 2002 has been in South America's Amazon Rainforest. According to the report’s author Anders Krogh, a tropical forest researcher, as more forests are destroyed, there is more potential for climate change, which in turn, makes it all the more difficult for the forests to survive.
Bolsonaro's reputation among other nations has been tarnished by his poor record on containing ...
Bolsonaro's reputation among other nations has been tarnished by his poor record on containing deforestation and wildfires in the Amazon rainforest
LULA SAMPAIO, AFP/File
“It’s a terrifying cycle,” Krogh said, according to Reuters. The total lost between just 2002 and 2019 was larger than the area of France, he found.
To give the extent of the loss more clarity, according to a World Resources Institute report, rainforest loss in 2019 was equal to the number of acres of forests lost in the previous 20 years, with a football field’s worth of forest vanishing every 6 seconds.
The primary reason for the extensive Amazon rainforest destruction in 2019 was the election of right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, who took office and began weakening environmental enforcement. The Brazilian government has allowed farmers and land speculators to torch plots of land for soybeans, beef, and other crops.
Aerial view of a burning area of Amazon rainforest reserve  south of Novo Progresso in Para state  B...
Aerial view of a burning area of Amazon rainforest reserve, south of Novo Progresso in Para state, Brazil, on August 16, 2020
CARL DE SOUZA, AFP
Krogh also says that the Brazilian Rainforest represents the best hope for saving what rainforests are left to the planet. The Amazon and its neighbors – the Orinoco and the Andean rainforest – account for 73.5 percent of tropical forests still intact, according to Krogh.
The new report “reinforces that Brazil must take care of the forest,” said Ane Alencar, a geographer with the Amazon Environmental Research Institute who was not involved in the work. “Brazil has the biggest chunk of tropical forest in the world and is also losing the most.”
Palm oil producers in Indonesia stand accused of burning areas of rainforest to make way for plantat...
Palm oil producers in Indonesia stand accused of burning areas of rainforest to make way for plantations, in fires that often spread and devastate the local environment
Romeo GACAD, AFP/File
The Hindustan Times is reporting that Southeast Asian Islands rank second in the amount of tropical rainforest destruction since 2002. Much of these forests have been cleared for the expansion of oil palm plantations to meet the growing demand for cheap vegetable fats and biofuels.
In Indonesia, palm oil is already cultivated on nine million hectares and, together with Malaysia, the island nation produces about 85 percent of the world's palm oil.
Central Africa ranks third in rainforest loss, with most of the destruction centered around the Congo River basin, due to traditional and commercial farming as well as logging.
The stark reality is this: Rainforests are being destroyed at a rapid pace. Almost 90 percent of West Africa's rainforest has been destroyed. Since the arrival of humans, Madagascar has lost two-thirds of its original rainforest. At present rates, tropical rainforests in Indonesia would be logged out in 10 years and Papua New Guinea in 13 to 16 years.
More about tropical rainforests, twothirds of original forests, destroyed or degraded, natural buffer, Environment
 
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