Forest area reduced by 60% per capita globally: study

As deforestation and wildfires caused by climate change affect the world’s forests, a new study has found that global forest area per capita has decreased by more than 60% in the past few decades. .

The researchers, led by a team based in Japan, outlined their findings in a study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters on Monday. Between 1960 and 2019, researchers say the global forest area decreased by 81.7 hectares, slightly larger than the entire island of Borneo in Southeast Asia.

When accounting for world population growth, the area of ​​forest lost in the last 60 years represents a decrease of 60% per capita.

“Continuous forest loss and degradation affects the integrity of forest ecosystems, reducing their ability to create and provide essential services and maintain biodiversity. It also affects the lives of at least 1.6 billion people around the world, mainly in developing countries, who depend on forests for various purposes,” the authors wrote.

In lower-income countries, profits from forests far outweigh deforestation. More than half of the world’s lost forests are in Brazil, where the Amazon rainforest is located. Over the past 60 years, the country has lost 43.9 million hectares of forest.

Satellite data shows that in the first half of 2022, the Brazilian Amazon forest was cleared in a record amount.

Higher income countries generally benefit from net forests, although Canada is an exception to this trend. Since 1960, the country has lost 8.6 million hectares and gained only 5.7 million hectares, resulting in a net loss of 2.9 million hectares.

“For the countries with the most deforestation in terms of area over the past 60 years … the main causes of deforestation are unprecedented commercial logging, industrial-scale deforestation for logging, open expansion of oil palm plantations, decentralization of forest management and social political transitions, among others,” the authors added.

Forests are also threatened by wildfires, as scientists say the effects of climate change have made some areas of the world hotter and drier, leaving them vulnerable to wildfires than. Firefighters in California are currently battling the largest wildfire in the state so far this year. Fires have also threatened communities in inland BC, prompting residents to evacuate.

“There is a need to reverse, or at least level, the global net deforestation curve by conserving the world’s remaining forests and restoring and rehabilitating degraded forest landscapes,” the researchers said. “.

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