A file photo shows firemen attempting to douse a huge blaze burning through forests in Santarem, Portugal, 9 August 2000. EPA-FILE/PHOTO LUSA/ANTONIO COTRIM/BW

11 soccer pitches of forest lost every minute, report warns

Rio de Janeiro, June 27 (EFE).- The world lost 4.1 million hectares of primary tropical forests in 2022, the equivalent of losing 11 soccer fields of forest per minute, the World Resources Institute warned in its latest report published on Tuesday.

Brazil accounted for 43% of the loss with 1.8 million hectares of primary forest decimated, followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo with 512,000 hectares and Bolivia with 386,000 hectares.

All three countries recorded increases in 2022 from the previous year and Brazil’s deforestation records were the highest since 2005, especially in the Amazon region, which is home to the largest area of humid tropical forest in the world.

“All this forest loss produced 2.7 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to India’s annual fossil fuel emissions,” Mikaela Weisse, director of Global Forest Watch, told reporters during a press conference with several WRI.

Amid the grim data, there were some glimmers of hope with Indonesia recording “historically low levels” of primary forest loss.

“Government policies and corrective actions have contributed to this reduction, in line with reaching Indonesia’s target of Net Sink (meaning negative CO2 emissions) from the forestry and other land use sectors by 2030,” the report said.

In addition, increased fire prevention and monitoring efforts, law enforcement, and a renewed commitment not only to protect and restore peatlands but also to rehabilitate mangroves have led to fewer fires and less primary forest loss, the report added.

The data corresponds to the analysis of satellite images carried out annually by the Global Forest Watch platform of the WRI, in partnership with the University of Maryland.

In the three countries where the largest volume of tropical forests was lost, deforestation increased in 2022 compared to 2021.

Bolivia recorded a 32% rise in deforestation, Brazil 14.5% and the DRC, 2.7%.

Illegal mining, the illicit timber trade, the construction of roads, an increase in pastures and land invasions were the main drivers of deforestation.

World leaders pledged to end deforestation by 2030 during climate talks in Glasgow last year, but WRI experts were skeptical the target was unrealistic given the latest data.

“Are we on track to halt deforestation by 2030? The short answer is a simple no,” Rod Taylor, head of WRI’s forests program, told reporters.

Humid tropical primary forests are the most biologically diverse ecosystems on the planet and are especially important because they store large amounts of carbon dioxide.

Decimating these environments means losing one of the most “cost-effective land-based measures to mitigate climate change,” the report warned. EFE