Global Tree Loss Surges—45 Million Acres Gone from the Planet in 2014

Friday, September 04, 2015
(photo: World Wildlife Fund)

Forests are continuing to be cut down at rates that alarm environmentalists, though the biggest culprits are not the countries that worried them in the past.

 

The University of Maryland and Google released data on Global Forest Watch that shows the planet lost 45 million acres (or 18 million hectares) of trees last year. That’s an area twice the size of Portugal.

 

More than half of the forest loss occurred in tropical countries, which chopped down or burned 24.5 million acres (9.9 million hectares).

 

It used to be that deforestation in Brazil and Indonesia were the biggest contributors to global tree loss. Although both still conduct the practice, they have cut back significantly. Brazil, for instance, has cut Amazon deforestation by 70% over the past decade.

 

Now, Cambodia, Sierra Leone, Madagascar, Uruguay and Paraguay have accelerating rates of deforestation. Cambodia in 2014 had four times as much tree loss as it did in 2001, according to the report. An increase in the price of rubber has caused more forests to be cleared for its production.

 

The World Resource Institute says more than 62% of tropical loss in 2014 occurred in countries outside of Brazil and Indonesia, compared to 47% in 2001.

-Noel Brinkerhoff

 

To Learn More:

Satellites Uncover 5 Surprising Hotspots for Tree Cover Loss (by Rachael Petersen Rachael Petersen, Nigel Sizer, Matt Hansen, Peter Potapov and David Thau, World Resources Institute)

Trees Are Disappearing From the World at an Alarming Rate (by Katie Valentine, ThinkProgress)

Humankind Has Halved the Number of Trees on the Planet (by Andrea Germanos, Common Dreams)

Biggest, Oldest Trees Most Likely to Succumb to Global Warming; Small Plants May be Spared (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Steve Straehley, AllGov)

Drought Killed More Than 12 Million Forest Trees Last Year; Lawns Are Next (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

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