State of the rainforest 2014

State of the rainforest 2014

Destruction of the rainforest and other tropical forests continue on a dramatic scale in spite of unprecedented global attention to the issue of deforestation and the role of forests in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. The global figures for deforestation are contested: Two main sources of data, the FAO’s Global Forest Resources Assessment (2010) and a remote sensing study by University of Maryland (2013), use different technologies and definitions of forest and display huge variation between figures. We simply don’t know how much rainforest is left on Earth, and how fast it disappears. Both sources agree, however, that tropical forests are being destroyed at an alarming rate. According to the FAO, 130 000 km2 of the world’s forests are lost every year, the majority in the tropics. Simultaneously, the University of Maryland calculates the annual loss of tropical forest to be 92 000 km2. According to the latter, 1.1 million km2 (three times the size of Norway) have been lost from 2000 to 2012. Dense tropical rainforests once covered around 18 million km2 of Earth, but is now reduced to half of this size. Most of this forest was lost during the last 50–60 years, and rapid deforestation continues. Except for Brazil, which has reduced deforestation at a globally significant scale, other countries have not managed to show similar positive results on the ground – in the forest – in spite of political commitments.

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