New Delhi (NVI): Two-thirds of the world’s original tropical rainforest cover has been degraded or destroyed by people, according to a new analysis.
Some 34 percent of the world’s original old-growth tropical rainforests have been destroyed, and another 30 percent degraded according to an analysis by the non-profit Rainforest Foundation, Norway.
The report provides an alarming update on the state of one of the world’s most valuable natural buffers in the climate crisis.
The forests were razed for logging and land conversion, largely for agriculture.
More than half of the destruction since 2002 has been in the Amazon region of South America and neighboring rainforests.
Southeast Asian islands, mostly in Indonesia, was ranked second in forest destruction since 2002. Destruction in Central Africa was third, mostly in the Congo River basin, due to farming and logging.
Researchers found that the total forest loss between 2002 and 2019 was larger than the size of France.
The forest loss is also adding to the emissions driving global heating as the dense tropical forest vegetation represents the largest living reservoir of carbon.
Forests that were defined in the report as degraded had either been partially destroyed or destroyed and since replaced by secondary forest growth, Rainforest Foundation Norway said.
The author of the report, Anders Krogh, said that there was a “terrifying cycle” of rainforest destruction adding to climate change which then makes it more difficult for remaining forests to survive.
The rate of loss in 2019 roughly matched the annual level of destruction over the last 20 years, with a football field’s worth of forest vanishing every 6 seconds, according to another recent report by the World Resources Institute.
The Brazilian Amazon has been under intense pressure in recent decades, as an agricultural boom has driven farmers and land speculators to torch plots of land for soybeans, beef, and other crops