The world's lost forest area would cover the size of Italy in 2017, as forests were cleared using fire to make way for farms from the Amazon to the Congo Basin, an independent forest monitoring network said Wednesday.
Loss of tree cover, primarily in the tropics, totaled 2.94,000 km2 last year, close to a record 2.97,000 km2 in 2016, according to Global Forest Watch, managed by the World Resources Institute (WRI) based in the United States. United States.
"Tropical forests were lost at a rate equivalent to 40 football pitches per minute in 2017," said Frances Seymour of WRI at a press conference at the Oslo Tropical Forestry Forum, which took place from 27 to June 28th. Norwegian Environment Minister Ola Elvestuen said the pace of forest losses was "catastrophic" and threatened to make efforts to curb global warming.
Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the air as they grow and release it when they burn or rot.
"The destruction of forests is driving climate change," he said. Norway has invested around $ 2.8 billion to safeguard tropical forests in the last decade, more than any other wealthy nation.
Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Madagascar and Malaysia suffered the biggest losses in 2017, said Global Forest Watch, which is based on 2001 satellite data.
Only Brazil lost 45,000 km2 of tree cover, 16% less than a record in 2016. The fires occurred in the Amazon region of southern Brazil. Justin Adams of the environmental group The Nature Conservancy said that only three percent of public finances to slow climate change went to natural solutions like forests. Well-managed forests can be a source of jobs and economic growth, he said.
Original article (in English)