Deforestation wipes out a million square kilometres of forest
May 12, 2021 - Global forest cover has declined by one million square kilometres since 1960, while cropland and pasture have increased by roughly the same extent, according to a new study.
Since 1960, humans have repurposed land on Earth equivalent in area to Africa and Europe combined, researchers have revealed. If one counts all transitions, such as turning forests into cropland or Savannah into pastures, it adds up to approximately 43 million km2 – four times greater than was previously believed.
Since 1960, Earth’s total forest cover has reduced by nearly 1 million km2, while areas covered by cropland and pastures have each increased by around the same amount. The Earth’s crust is stretched across 510 million km2, with 70% (361m km2) being water – mostly oceans.
Studies like these are important. Tropical forests, for example, soak up about 30% of manmade carbon pollution, so large landscape alterations can radically alter attempts at global temperature reductions and meeting Paris Agreement targets.
Presently, the Earth is warmer by 1.2°C than it was in the pre-industrial age.