Brazil leads world tropical deforestation rankings

world tropical deforestation rankings
Photo: Christian Vinces/Shutterstock

In 2021, an area equivalent to one football field was destroyed in the world’s tropical forests every six seconds. Per Global Forest Watch — a deforestation monitoring initiative headed by the University of Maryland — 40 percent of this deforestation occurred in Brazil.

Brazilian deforestation topped the mark of 15,000 square kilometers last year. Global Forest Watch points out that most of the loss was due to events such as logging or mining. Areas such as the Pantanal wetlands were chastised by massive fires over the past couple of years, and many regulations on mining and logging have either been loosened or not enforced by local authorities.

In the Amazon, experts warn that the rainforest is losing its resilience and parts of it could reach a tipping point, becoming a savanna-like biome instead. 

Researchers from the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) published an article in scientific journal Nature last year affirming that parts of the Amazon now act “as a net carbon source (total carbon flux minus fire emissions) to the atmosphere,” as human activity has reduced the forest’s capacity to absorb carbon.

Besides pointing out Brazil’s shortcomings, Global Forest Watch mentioned Indonesia as a positive example. The Asian country reduced the rate of primary forest loss by fourfold in five years. New monitoring policies and tighter control over the extraction of palm oil helped the country to achieve an improvement in its numbers.