The tropics lost 10 percent more primary rainforest in 2022 than in 2021 – the equivalent of 11 soccer pitches of forest disappearing per minute – according to a global analysis of 2022 tree cover loss data released on June 27.
The forest loss was highest in Brazil, Bolivia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Indonesia and Malaysia maintained their recent trend of low rates of tree loss, said the study. The total tropical primary forest loss was 4.1 million hectares, an area about the size of Switzerland. The study based on satellite measurements was done jointly by the University of Maryland and the World Resources Institute’s Global Forest Watch.
Globally, the tropics are losing forests faster than anywhere else, mainly for agriculture, timber and mining. This is a global concern, as tropical rainforests are huge stores of biodiversity and absorb vast amounts of carbon dioxide, besides regulating local and regional climates.
The forest loss in 2022 led to 2.7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, which is equivalent to the fossil fuel emissions of India, said Mikaela Weisse, the director of Global Forest Watch, an online data platform.
The study researchers said that fires are a major and growing source of forest loss in the tropics and elsewhere as global temperatures rise and droughts become more severe. In 2015, fires devastated large areas of Indonesia. In 2016, Brazil lost 1.6 million ha due to fires. In 2022, Russia lost 4.3 million ha of tree cover, of which 73 percent was related to fires.