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Graphic shows number of hectares of primary tropical forest loss between 2002 and 2019, as well as the top ten countries loosing primary forests in 2019.


Pristine forest loss continues unabated

By Jordi Bou

June 2, 2020 - Tropical rainforests disappeared across the globe at a rate of one football pitch every six seconds in 2019. Brazil was responsible for more than a third of the total.

The worldwide total loss of old-growth, or primary, tropical forest — 3.8 million hectares, an area nearly the size of Switzerland — was 2.8 percent higher than 2018 and the third biggest decline since the turn of the century, according to data from Global Forest Watch (GFW).

Researchers estimated that the loss of primary tropical forest in 2019 resulted in the release of more than 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide, or more than the emissions from all on-road vehicles in the U.S. in a typical year.

Brazil accounted for a third of it, its worst loss in 13 years apart from huge spikes in 2016 and 2017 from fires.

Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, who took office at the beginning of 2019, has aggressively pursued development in the Amazon.

However, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo both managed to reduce tree loss. Meanwhile, Australia saw a sixfold rise in total tree loss, following dramatic wildfires late in 2019.

The tropics lost a total of 11.9 million hectares of tree cover, the study found.

PUBLISHED: 02/06/2020; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: Associated Press